Teens and Rhinoplasty

young-1922401_1920Teenage cosmetic surgery is still not very common. But, when teens seek cosmetic surgery, a nose reshaping is the most common cosmetic surgery requested. It’s usually performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. This means you go to the surgery facility and then go home the same day. Getting a “nose job,” which doctors call a rhinoplasty, can be very simple or very complex. When done correctly by an experienced rhinoplasty surgeon, it can make a big difference in how a person looks and feels about themselves.

Some questions we’ll explore the answers to in this blog article are:

  • When Can Teens Have Rhinoplasty?
  • What Can You Change with Rhinoplasty?
  • What Are the Risks of Rhinoplasty?
  • How to Choose a Surgeon

When Can Teens Have Rhinoplasty?

Teens should not have a nose job until the nose has reached its adult size. This normally happens at about age 14 to 15 for girls. For boys, it is usually no earlier than age 17. If surgery is performed before the mid-face is fully grown, there may be alteration in the aesthetics and function of the upper jaw.

What Can You Change with Rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty can be performed for cosmetic and/or reconstructive reasons. Reconstructive reasons usually include the need to fix breathing problems due to a deviated septum and/or inferior turbinate hypertrophy. Cosmetic reasons for rhinoplasty include:

  • Removing a hump on the nose
  • Straightening the bridge
  • Reshaping the nose’s tip
  • Increasing or decreasing the size of the nostrils
  • Making the nose bigger or smaller
  • Improve the appearance and/or function of the nose after trauma

Health insurance may cover the costs for the reconstructive portion of a rhinoplasty procedure. Inquire with your health insurance provider for the terms of your policy.

What Are the Risks of Rhinoplasty?

Any type of surgery has risks. These include bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia. Risks of rhinoplasty include:

  • Numbness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Scarring
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Wound healing problems
  • Bursting of small blood vessels on the skin’s surface
  • Swelling
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Septal perforation
  • Saddle nose deformity
  • Dissatisfaction with the cosmetic and/or functional outcome
  • Need for a revision operation

Many plastic surgeons take a lot of time to talk with teens before doing surgery. They want to make sure the teen is mature enough to handle it, is doing it for the correct reasons, and has realistic expectations about the results. For instance, thinking that changing your nose will change your whole life and make you more popular is not being realistic.

Before getting a nose job, teens and their parents or guardians should talk extensively with the surgeon and weigh all of the risks and benefits. Honest communication between you, your parents, and the surgeon is very important to the success of the operation. It is very important to understand why a teen might seek to change the appearance of their nose. Bullying, self-image problems, history of nasal trauma due to sports injury, etc. are some valid reasons teens seek rhinoplasty surgery.

After a nose job, recovery takes patience and support from family and friends. You will need to keep your head elevated for 7 days after the operation. And there will be some pain and swelling (which can be managed with pain medication and cold compresses). Some people become discouraged with the swelling and how they look immediately after the operation. But when the swelling goes down, the redness disappears and the nose fully heals. This can take weeks, but most people like the results. The upper 2/3’s of the nose heals in the first 2-3 months. The tip of the nose takes until the 10th to 12th month to completely heal. If the surgery is a revision operation, it could take twice as long to recover.

Look for a surgeon who is experienced in plastic surgery of the nose and who has a reputation for achieving patient satisfaction. The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS) are the most common bodies that certifies rhinoplasty surgeons. Make sure you read both the good and bad reviews about the surgeon to get the most accurate impression about them.

It’s best to have the procedure done in an accredited facility. If you have a complication, an experienced surgeon working with a well-trained team will be able to assess and correct the situation.

When you consult with a rhinoplasty specialist, they will evaluate your nose in the office. They will assess shape and function of the nose to determine the surgical plan. They will take photographs and perform rhinoplasty simulations to better understand your cosmetic goals.

You should talk to your surgeon in detail to describe your goals and learn about the risks and benefits of a rhinoplasty surgery. You should also ask your surgeon for information on what it will cost. Cost estimates are typically given at the time of consultation. For insurance cases, cost estimates are more difficult to assess.  If you have health insurance, talk to your health insurance company so you’re clear on what will be covered and what you will pay for. Health insurance companies usually don’t pay for plastic surgery unless there’s a medical reason for the operation.

Check out this video on choosing a plastic surgeon…

About the author Manish H. Shah, MD, FACS

I am a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Denver, Colorado. I specialize in cosmetic surgery of the face and body. Rhinoplasty, Revision Rhinoplasty, and Ethnic Rhinoplasty are my favorite procedures.

All posts by Manish H. Shah, MD, FACS →

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