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Ross A. Clevens, MD, FACS

Age is just a number, except when it starts to affect how you look and feel about yourself. One question many patients considering facial plastic surgery have in common is "what's the right age for surgery?" Since everyone is different, there's usually no one, set answer to the question. Instead, it depends on your own health and expectations and the type of surgery you are considering.

Ear Surgery

Not every type of plastic surgery is designed to fight the signs of aging. Some, such as otoplasty, or ear surgery, are intended to correct problems that a person was born with or that occurred because of an injury, not because of aging. Ear surgery might be performed to pull back ears that protrude from the head or ears that are in an unusual position.

Interestingly enough, it's one plastic surgery option that is often recommended for younger patients. In fact, when it comes to ear surgery, in many cases, the younger a person is, the better, as the cartilage in the ears is still flexible. Often, the procedure is recommended for people beginning around the age of six, or when the ears are for the most part fully grown.

Another advantage of performing ear surgery early in life is that it can cut down on teasing and bullying. Some parents decide to get their child the surgery before starting school, so that classmates won't pick on a child about the size or prominence of his or her ears.

Of course, ear surgery isn't off the table for older people. If parents don't decide on the surgery early on, a teenager might request it as he or she gets older, if the ears are a source of self-consciousness for him or her. An adult might also decide to have ear surgery to correct the position of the ears or to fix an injury such as a torn earlobe that developed over his or  her lifetime.


Rhinoplasty is another surgery that is performed not to correct the signs of aging, but to correct the size or shape of a facial feature. Unlike ear surgery, rhinoplasty isn't usually recommended for the very young. Instead, most surgeons advise waiting until a patient's nose has fully grown before thinking about the surgery. Usually, the nose has reached full size by the time a person is in his or her late teens.

There are a number of things to consider, aside from the age and growth of the patient, when rhinoplasty is on the table.  If a teenager wants rhinoplasty, it's a good idea for the surgeon and parents to get a feel for that teen's maturity level first. It's worth investigating why a teen wants the surgery before giving consent. If he or she wants the procedure to fit in with friends, it might be worth waiting for the surgery until a teen's social setting has changed. A teen feeling pressure for rhinoplasty in high school might decide that his or her nose is totally fine in college, for example.

Adults can benefit from rhinoplasty, too, if they aren't happy with  the size and shape of their nose. Generally, any age in adulthood is fine for the surgery, but there might be some precautions or issues that develop as a person gets older and the texture and health of the skin changes. Overall health is also an important consideration when thinking about nasal surgery in adulthood, more than age is.

Facelift and Other Rejuvenating Procedures

Several factors go into deciding whether a facelift is right for you, and age just plays one small part in it. Different lifestyle choices can mean that one person is ready for the surgery at age 42, for example, while another person, who made different choices throughout life, might not even need to think about the surgery until much later in life.

Factors that influence when it might be time for a facelift include whether or not you smoked throughout your adult life and whether or not you were dedicated to avoiding sun exposure and using sunscreen. Smoking and sun exposure are two major causes of aging on the skin. Plenty of either can make a person who's just 40 look 10 or 15 years older.

While a 40 year old with good skincare habits might not need a facelift, there are sometimes benefits to having the surgery performed before the age of 50 if there are enough signs of aging. A 2011 study from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that patients who had the surgery performed before age 50 tended to enjoy longer lasting results than patients who had a facelift later on.

Of course, your results may vary, and there's simply no single age that’s best for any plastic surgery. It's up to you and your surgeon to decide when you're ready for a procedure.

In central Florida, you can turn to the area's award-winning facial plastic surgeon with any questions you have about age and plastic surgery. Dr. Ross Clevens is happy to discuss your options with you and help you make the decision that will benefit you the most. To schedule a consultation, call (321) 727-3223 today.

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