Question: My daughter is 14 years old and a beautiful girl, however her nostrils have a slight flare to them and other kids make fun of her and call her “Nostrilla,” which very distressing to her. Is she a candidate for rhinoplasty at this age or should we wait?
Answer: Rhinoplasty involves reshaping the nose. There are 2 important factors to determine whether or not a patient is ready for this procedure. The first are the physical and anatomical limitations, and the second is the psychological. The nose generally grows as a patient gets older and there are growth centers which are very crucial to the proper and final development of the nose. In general, these growth centers reach maturity around age 15 in women and around age 17 in men. From the physical standpoint, anytime around this age rhinoplasty can be considered, however each patient is slightly different. The psychological standpoint is the more important factor. Rhinoplasty involves reshaping of the nose and changing your appearance. Different people will handle a radical change in their appearance quite differently. Also, a child or teenager may have unreasonable expectations of how a rhinoplasty surgery will change their life. For example, they may think that having a new rhinoplasty would get them that friend that they’ve always wanted or change their status within their peer group. It is also important to make sure that patients in this young age group are psychologically fit. It is important to screen out things like obsessive compulsive disorder. If a child is constantly asking for rhinoplasty surgery and looking at their nose and is affecting their life, this may need to be considered. However, the overriding concern of the vast majority of patients is are they well enough, and are they psychologically able to handle the post operative period and the new change in their appearance from the rhinoplasty surgery. So in general, I think a 14 year old is too young to have a rhinoplasty. This procedure should be delayed until the child id psychologically able to handle it. It varies with some patients and may not come until their early 20’s or late teens. In this particular case, it is also important to note that the diagnosis is correct. Many people have a slight flaring of their nostrils and they may be able to move their nostrils. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis to see whether or not a rhinoplasty can change the appearance.