Rhinoplasty is as much an art form as it is a medical procedure. Because every nose is different, a surgeon must be skilled in a wide variety of techniques in order to achieve the best possible result for each patient. When determining how to proceed, a surgeon must take into account a patient’s nasal structure, surgical objectives, and other unique factors, including the patient’s age. As such, many people are curious about the ideal age for rhinoplasty, and the feasibility of undergoing the procedure at different ages.
In general, it is not a good idea for a child who is still developing to undergo an elective, cosmetic procedure like a rhinoplasty. Specifically, due to the potential for disruption of the nasal growth centers, a surgeon must ascertain whether a child’s nose has stopped growing before considering any form of nasal surgery. Because there is often a correlation between the maturity of the foot and the maturity of the nose, a simple but surprisingly accurate test is to determine when a prospective patient’s shoe size last changed. If it has been more than two years since a child’s shoe size increased, there is a strong likelihood that his or her nose has also stopped growing, and that a nasal operation would be feasible. On average, this occurs around age 15 in girls and around age 16 or 17 in boys. Therefore, nasal surgery on a younger child is recommended only in the presence of extenuating circumstances, such as when a nasal obstruction creates significant breathing difficulties.
Teenagers are also not commonly associated with cosmetic surgery. However, the physical component of changing a patient’s nasal appearance is not the only factor to bear in mind. In addition to physical development, it is important to assess a teenager’s emotional maturity before considering any type of cosmetic procedure, including a nose job. Oftentimes, a compelling reason for a teenager to seek rhinoplasty is better social adjustment during the high school and college years. The evaluation of a teenager is a multi-faceted and complex process – some teens are very mature and clear about what they want to change, while others might display photos of the latest pop star and explain that this is the nose they desire. As such, thoughtful conversation and examination should occur between a surgeon, the teen, and the teen’s parents before any cosmetic procedure is considered. A teenager must be mature enough to understand that the purpose of rhinoplasty is not to create a “trendy” nose, but rather to enhance the appearance of the nose so that it will continue to look good with age.
Young adults can be candidates for many types of plastic surgery, including rhinoplasty. Changes to the nasal structure can be entertained at this age because the nose has reached maturity. Nevertheless, if a prospective patient is considering a nose job for aesthetic reasons, a surgeon should carefully evaluate the patient’s expectations and motivations to ensure that they are realistic and appropriate. The best rhinoplasty candidates are well-adjusted and happy with their lives – they simply want to improve the appearance of their noses, and are not seeking perfection. A prospective patient must understand that even slight changes to the shape of the nose can have a dramatic effect on his or her appearance. By the same token, a patient should not expect a nose job to transform him or her into someone else.
Like young adults, middle-aged patients are also good candidates for rhinoplasty. Those who seek nose jobs tend to desire more subtle changes than their younger counterparts, mainly because their identities are usually well established at this point in their lives.
Prospective patients in this category typically seek a more youthful representation of themselves. Sometimes, they experience a disconnect between what they see in the mirror and how they feel inside. At this age, most people do not seek drastic changes, but instead have a healthy desire to “look good for their age.” There is no upper age limit for rhinoplasty; rather, if a person is in overall good health (both mentally and physically) and has reasonable expectations, he or she is not too old for plastic surgery.
Consult with a Board Certified Surgeon
If you would like more information about rhinoplasty, either for yourself or for your child, it’s best to consult with an experienced cosmetic surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. A trusted surgeon can help you make a fully informed decision to help ensure that you are ultimately satisfied.
Katie Perry is an online content editor in the Tampa Bay area. She posts articles about plastic surgery topics and procedures, including rhinoplasty
, facelifts, and others.