The teen years are a time of testing limits, building self-image, and doing our very best to fit in with others. Unfortunately, peer groups can be downright cruel and judgmental. Conformity is the rule. Non-conformity or being different in a way that diminishes the group’s prestige is often a one-way ticket out of the group.
Having a nose defect can be a source of trauma and low self-esteem for many teens yearning for acceptance by their like-aged cohorts. The middle school years can be especially hard. So, it’s of no surprise that many early adolescents are considering rhinoplasty as a way to put an end to the ridicule and rejection that comes with having a noticeable bump on the bridge of the nose or a nose that’s hooked, too long, pug, or saddle-bag.
Many teens who have had cosmetic rhinoplasty considered it a life-changing event. And there has been no shortage of rhinoplasty procedures. In 2009, about 2 percent of all rhinoplasty procedures in the U.S. were performed under the age of 18. The average age of a teenage girl having cosmetic nasal surgery is 15. For boys, it’s 16. During the past 12 years there has been a steady 1 to 3 percent growth in teenage cosmetic nasal procedures in the U.S.
So, should a teenager have cosmetic nose surgery as a self-esteem builder?
Doctors have different views on the subject. Some feel it’s a decision that requires emotional maturity and practical judgment because, in the long run, rhinoplasty is the best solution to a cosmetic defect that may not even matter in adulthood. A number of plastic surgeons also believe the procedure should be done on young teens only when it’s necessary. Since the parents are probably paying for the surgery they are entitled to be a part of the decision making process.
Teens should consider the consequences of cosmetic rhinoplasty before they rush into the plastic surgeon’s office for a procedure that may not require immediate action. It’s also important for teens to develop a thicker skin and, most importantly, learn to rise above the peer rejection.
If your teen is considering rhinoplasty, talk over your concerns with a qualified facial plastic surgeon.
Dr. Philip Miller is a board certified facial plastic surgeon with offices located at 60 East 56th, Third Floor, New York, N.Y. Call (212) 750-7100 for a personal consultation.