What Is the Best Age for a Rhinoplasty?

What Is the Best Age for a Rhinoplasty? featured image
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During those wretched awkward years of middle school, I remember hating my nose with a vengeance. It felt too big for my face, and I dreamed of a different nose—not that I had any idea what a rhinoplasty actually entailed. Eventually, I grew into my nose, and my face now feels balanced, so I’m glad I held off on making any drastic changes as a teenager, especially as a late bloomer. However, some people simply can’t wait it out for understandable reasons. Is there an age that’s too young to get a rhinoplasty? What about too old? We asked the experts who perform rhinoplasties regularly.

Is there a best age to get a rhinoplasty?

Wayne, NJ facial plastic surgeon Jeffrey B. Wise, MD feels there is no optimal age for a rhinoplasty, noting that he sees patients of all ages, from teenagers to people in their 70s, which he says is “pretty awesome.” However, he notes that they prefer not to perform rhinoplasties on very young patients.

“When considering if a patient is a suitable candidate for rhinoplasty, it’s important to assess whether the nose has fully developed. In general, rhinoplasty is done when the patient has stopped growing,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Lee Ann Klausner, MD. She notes that for girls, this is typically around 16 or one year after her period, and for boys, it’s 18 or one year after their shoe size is stable.

It’s important to take this pause to allow bones and cartilage to mature before making any alterations, explains Dr. Wise. “For young women, who typically mature earlier than men, the earliest I will perform a rhinoplasty is around 13 or 14, when they have usually gone through puberty and stopped growing. For boys, it’s a bit later, typically at a minimum age of 15, 16 or 17, when they have generally hit their growth spurt and matured physically,” says Dr. Wise.

“Another important consideration is the psychosocial aspect. Undergoing a rhinoplasty is a significant and emotional journey, requiring a certain level of emotional maturity,” notes Dr. Wise. “We ensure that patients, whether in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s or even 60s, are psychologically prepared for this process. It’s crucial that they understand the gravity of the procedure and are mentally ready for the journey that rhinoplasty entails.”

What is the most common age for a rhinoplasty?

Dr. Klausner points to a recent report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that found the majority of rhinoplasties are completed on patients between the ages of 20 and 29. “This speaks to the point that people need a little time to grow into their face. The maturity that comes several years after puberty can be a good time to consider rhinoplasty,” she says. 

However, when the choice is beyond cosmetic reasons and related to trauma or persistent nasal obstruction, it can be a different story. “In these cases, we call the procedure a functional rhinoplasty because the function of the nose is compromised, and surgery can help improve nasal breathing,” says Dr. Klausner.

Dr. Wise notes that he sees a lot of patients in their teens and those in their 20s seeking rhinoplasties. “Transition periods are particularly popular times for this surgery, such as when graduating high school and entering college, starting a new job, or between engagements and marriages,” says Dr. Wise. “These transitional points often prompt individuals to undergo nose reshaping surgery, though we see patients from their teens onward.” Dr. Klaunser adds, “A middle-aged patient with a droopy nose might consider rhinoplasty in order to look younger.”

What is considered too young for a rhinoplasty?

Dr. Klausner advises against a rhinoplasty on a patient whose nose has not fully developed to its adult size, which can mean a different age for different people. Dr. Wise adds that it also depends on medical history. “Some patients are too young, either physically or emotionally, and we carefully screen for that,” he says.

What is considered too old for a rhinoplasty?

“During adulthood, rhinoplasties can be performed on patients of any age as long as they are in good health overall,” says Dr. Klausner. “However, there are important considerations to keep in mind with older patients, including decreased skin elasticity and longer healing times.” There is a period after surgery when the ability to breathe through the nose is difficult, she notes. Additionally, swelling and the anesthesia needed to undergo rhinoplasty might be a great risk for someone in poor health, says Dr. Klausner.

Without factoring in age, what are some signs a patient may benefit from a rhinoplasty?

Simply put, “Rhinoplasty is for anyone unhappy with the aesthetic or functional aspects of their nose,” says Dr. Wise. “In my practice, rhinoplasty addresses two main issues. First, it corrects cosmetic concerns that people don’t like. More importantly, it can improve breathing. Proper nasal function is crucial for breathing and smelling, and when compromised, it can significantly impact one’s quality of life.”

“A patient may benefit from a rhinoplasty if they are dissatisfied with the appearance of their nose, have a crooked nose or have experienced trauma to the nose, or have difficulty breathing,” says Dr. Klausner. Cosmetically, if the patient feels their nose detracts from appreciating other features on their face, they may consider a rhinoplasty, she explains.

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