Question: We live in a wealthy area and it seems like the most popular 16th birthday gift given to the friends of our daughter by their parents are either nose jobs or breast implants. I’m not against cosmetic surgery for teenagers who have serious, noticeable problems and I try not to judge, but these are all pretty young girls who seem to be overly influenced by the images they see in magazines and on TV. I know that with rhinoplasty, you have to at least wait until the individual stops growing physically, but how do you judge whether a teenager is ready emotionally? Is there an objective way of knowing how soon is too soon?
Answer: That is a great question. I have seen many 14-year-old who are mentally and physically mature and ready for rhinoplasty and I have also seen many 40-year-olds who are mentally immature and not ready for elective rhinoplasty. I try to spend at least one hour during the primary rhinoplasty consultation and then at least see the patient back one more time prior to having surgery in order to get to know them and their motivations and see if they are good candidates for elective nasal surgery. Many surgeons rush too quickly to offer rhinoplasty to their patients without trying to get to know the patient’s a little bit better. I have seen young teenagers who are not happy with their noses and want a rhinoplasty but whose parents are against the surgery. Many times after the consultation these skeptical parents can see on the computer screen using digital computer imaging that their children’s faces do not change for the worse but rather for the better. Every parent is afraid of their child’s nose ending up like Michael Jackson or Joan Rivers. When parents see that a good nose job can actually look pretty and natural at the same time, some of their fears are alleviated. I have also seen teenagers who are OK with their own noses but their super critical parents are the ones pushing them towards surgery. That is a much more troubling situation. I think if both sides are realistic and open to discussion and dialogue and if both sides are mature and you find a good skilled and honest surgeon, then there is nothing wrong with a teenager who has finished their growth spurt to undergo elective rhinoplasty.