Teenagers often feel insecure about their physical appearance. As they navigate through adolescence and the social challenges of high school, they may be tempted to focus their insecurities on specific features. Plastic surgery can run the risk of being perceived as an “instant” image enhancer; the solution to a fragile self-esteem, or a powerful popularity booster.

Especially common in teenagers are rhinoplasties. Noses are one of the facial features that undergo the most change during adolescence, and nasal prominence, real or perceived, is frequently a source of deep emotional angst that sends both teenagers and parents rushing to a plastic surgeon‘s office. However, care should be taken when considering this type of surgery for anyone in this age group, and specific issues must be considered.

In general, the most advisable course of action is to wait for a patient’s face to complete its growth before undergoing any plastic surgery procedure.

Thus, and typically, the earliest the procedure should be performed is 16 years of age for girls, and 17 years of age for boys, who generally mature slower than girls.

Waiting for physical maturity greatly lowers the chance of performing corrective surgery when the patient is older. However, each patient’s situation is unique, and should be considered individually. In some patients with congenital defects or trauma, surgery at an earlier age may be necessary or desired.

Equally important to physical maturity is emotional maturity. A teenage patient must be able to understand the choice that he or she is making. Rhinoplasty is not to be taken lightly, and it is not to be considered a popularity-builder, or an attempt to look more like another person or celebrity. Many kids, however, are overly self-conscious, socially challenged or insecure about features that are out of proportion. Parents, in consultation with the surgeon, must decide whether the procedure is right for their child, and if their son or daughter harbors reasonable expectations about the outcome. This is an important crossroads at any age. A rhinoplasty causes a permanent alteration of facial proportions, and it is thus a decision that will last a lifetime.

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