A Rhinoplasty for Christmas: San Diego plastic surgeon reports Teenagers often seek Nose Surgery during Winter Break

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Roy David, MD, FACS, San Diego rhinoplasty specialist, says surgery can be very positive but teens must be emotionally ready.

In 2012, rhinoplasty was one of the top five cosmetic surgery procedures in the US, with over 140,000 performed, and this number is expected to remain high in 2013. Of these procedures, a growing number of rhinoplasties are performed in teenage patients, many of whom will choose to have their procedures over winter break. The teenage years are transformative for many adolescents, and insecurity about their appearance can impact them in many negative ways. For both teens and their parents, nose-reshaping surgery may seem like an easy albeit costly method to boost self confidence- and possibly impact future scholastic and social success.

The nose occupies a central position on the face, and a large or crooked nose can dominate a person's appearance, according to San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Roy David. "For some teenagers, they look in the mirror and all they see is a large hump or a droopy tip," says Dr. David. "An ideal nose does not draw too much attention, allowing people to focus on one's eyes, lips, and other attractive features." Dr. David adds that winter break is convenient for teenagers because they generally heal within one week and can be back in school without drawing attention.

Despite the possible benefits of an attractive nose, not everyone is a good candidate for surgery, and Dr. David says this distinction is especially important when dealing with teenagers. "Even among mature adults, there can be a large percentage of rhinoplasty candidates who think fixing their nose will automatically bring them financial or romantic success, or who may be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder-a condition that cannot be helped by cosmetic surgery. With teenagers, there is the added risk factor of emotional immaturity-which can amplify these problems," says Dr. David.

So how to know if your teen may be a good candidate for rhinoplasty? With his San Diego clients, Dr. David starts by analyzing physical maturity. The patient's face and nose must be fully developed, and this generally coincides with someone reaching their full expected height. Most girls reach this point by age 14 or 15, for boys this may be closer to age 16 to 18. "I will ask my patients if their shoe size has changed in the past year. If the answer is no, then they are probably physically ready," says Dr. David.

The next step is to look at emotional maturity. According to Dr. David, the patient should be able to articulate one to three things they specifically dislike about their nose, and then be able to explain what they hope to gain from rhinoplasty surgery: "A good answer is: I'm happy with myself, but I hate this bump on my bridge. It's bothered me for many years, and I think getting rid of it will just give me a boost of confidence." Vague concerns or unrealistic expectations may be warning signs that a teen is just not ready.

Once physical and emotional maturity are established, Dr. David performs computer imaging to show the teenage patient what a realistic goal for their appearance may be. "If they are not excited about what I show them on the screen, or ask for multiple alterations, then that is a sign that I will probably not be able to make this person happy," says Dr. David.

Dr. David says that with careful assessment by an experienced surgeon, rhinoplasty can be a very rewarding experience for teenage patients and their parents: "Some of my happiest and most grateful clients are teenage rhinoplasty patients, and I truly enjoy working with them."

For more information, contact Dr. Roy David at 858 658 0595 or http://sandiegoface.com/rhinoplasty/.

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Angela Carleo
Roy David MD
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