Even though I routinely perform facial plastic surgery and minimally-invasive facial rejuvenation procedures to help men and women achieve a more youthful appearance, I also know that not all plastic surgery patients are necessarily concerned with the signs of facial aging. In fact, many are young men and women who desire subtle changes in features like the ears or nose to either improve facial aesthetics or to address specific functional difficulties. According to statistics compiled by The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 57% of all the ear surgery (otoplasty) and nose reshaping (rhinoplasty) procedures in 2016 were performed on patients under the age of thirty-four. These two plastic surgery procedures have proven to be extremely popular with younger patients for a variety of reasons.
Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
During fetal development, it is possible that the cartilage forming the ears fails to fold properly, which can result in ears that stick out unusually far from the sides of the head. Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is a procedure that seeks to recreate the missing cartilage folds and bring the ears closer to the head for a more natural appearance. I have personally published several articles that detail my own cartilage sparing otoplasty technique1, which is best performed on children between the ages of five and seven, when the ear has nearly reached adult size and the cartilage is thick enough to safely support sutures, but before the child is old enough for the issue to cause serious social difficulties.
Nose Reshaping (Rhinoplasty)
Nose surgery, or rhinoplasty, is one of the most frequently performed plastic surgery procedures in the United States, in no small part because it can achieve both cosmetic and functional goals. When surgical nose reshaping is performed on younger patients, it is frequently done to alleviate breathing difficulties that may result from congenital conditions, like syndromic craniosynostosis and, most commonly, cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Rhinoplasty procedures on younger patients require a great deal of skill because ongoing structural changes that accompany the patient’s growth make a long-term, sequential approach necessary. Generally, I prefer to begin when the patient is 4-6 years of age, follow up (if necessary) with an intermediate stage at 9-12 years, and conclude with a final repair when the patient reaches adolescence.2
Performing any form of plastic surgery on younger patients requires a great deal of planning, and I always recommend that prospective patients have an honest, open discussion with their parents about their concerns and aesthetic goals. A thorough facial plastic surgery consultation, including a discussion of expectations and computerized imaging to help avoid the misunderstandings that lead to postoperative disappointment, is an essential part of any cosmetic plastic surgery procedure. If you have questions about how best to address your own individual facial concerns, or if you are interested in any of the facial plastic surgery procedures I perform, please contact my office, to schedule a consultation. Don’t forget to connect with me, Dr. Fernando Burstein, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.
- Burstein, FD.: Cartilage-Sparing Complete Otoplasty Technique: A Ten Year Experience with 100 Patients. Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 2003 Jul;14(4):521-5.
- Burstein, FD.: Aesthetic and Reconstructive Rhinoplasty, A Personal Perspective. Atlanta Medicine, Journal of the Medical Association of Atlanta. 2006 May; 7(3):23-26.