Nose Surgery (Rhinoplasty)
Nose Surgery Quick Facts
- Best Candidates: People who are seeking to change the physical characteristics of their nose for cosmetic and/or functional reasons
- Procedure Length: 1 to 2 hours
- Inpatient/Outpatient: Usually Outpatient
- Anesthesia: Local with sedation or general
- Results: Permanent
- Procedures in 2020: 352,555 (source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons)
People who are dissatisfied with the size or shape of their nose can become extremely self-conscious about their appearance. Nose surgery (also called rhinoplasty) is a popular plastic surgery procedure used to change the size and shape of the nose for cosmetic reasons and to correct problems that cause breathing difficulties. The majority of nose surgery, or nose reshaping, patients successfully achieve an improved appearance and an increase in self-confidence.
The procedure information contained in this article will give you a good introduction to nose surgery. Schedule a consultation with a Top Plastic Surgeon to receive a medical examination and discuss your options for nose reshaping.
Nose Surgery Overview
The size and shape of the nose may be the most defining characteristic of the face. People who are unhappy with their nose can become very self-conscious about their appearance and suffer in their interactions with others. Discontent with the nose they inherited or undesirable changes caused by aging leads hundreds of thousands of people each year to seek nose surgery (rhinoplasty) to change the size, shape or other characteristics of the nose.
Nose surgery can improve the appearance of the face by reducing the nose in size, straightening humps on the bridge of the nose, changing the shape of the nose tip and/or narrowing or widening the nostrils. Many patients find a new sense of confidence with a straighter, more shapely nose that is in better proportion to the rest of the face. Rhinoplasty is also performed to improve breathing problems if the nostrils are too narrow or partially obstructed, and as a reconstructive technique to correct birth defects and damage from injuries.
How Nose Surgery is Performed
Your plastic surgeon begins the procedure by making incisions within the nostrils (closed technique) or at the base of the nose across the skin that separates the nostrils (open technique). The closed technique is often used for minor reshaping, while more complex procedures are likely to be performed using the open technique. If the open technique is used, more tissue is disrupted and swelling takes longer to subside.
After the incisions are made, the nose skin is separated from the underlying structure of bone and cartilage. The surgeon then sculpts and reshapes the bone and cartilage to give the nose its desired shape. If the nose is reduced in size, excess bone and cartilage may be removed. Finally, the skin is redraped over the new structure and the incisions closed. A splint is applied to help the nose maintain its new shape and nasal packs may be placed in the nostrils to stabilize the septum, the dividing wall between the air passages.
Nose surgery usually takes 1 to 2 hours to complete, depending on the specifics of the surgery. The procedure may take place in your plastic surgeon's surgical facility, an outpatient surgery center or a hospital. Rhinoplasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing the patient to return to the comfort of home on the same day as the surgery.
Nose surgery can be performed using local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia. Local anesthesia numbs the area of surgery and is combined with a sedative to render drowsiness. Under general anesthesia, you will sleep throughout the procedure. The type of anesthesia used depends on the extent of the procedure and the preferences of you and your surgeon.
Nose surgery (rhinoplasty) can be performed for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes. The best candidates for cosmetic nose surgery are people who are in good health and want to improve the appearance of their face by changing the shape, proportions or other physical characteristics of their nose. Rhinoplasty can also benefit people with breathing difficulties by opening the nostrils and benefit people with birth defects or injuries by offering options for reconstruction.
In general, the best candidates for nose surgery:
- Are in good physical and psychological health.
- Are well-informed about treatment options and have realistic expectations.
- Are people who would benefit psychologically and emotionally from a nose that is smaller, straighter, more symmetrical and/or otherwise changed physically.
- Are people who require nose reconstruction due to an injury or birth defect.
If you believe that you may be a good candidate for nose surgery, a qualified plastic surgeon can evaluate your condition, explain anything about the procedure you don't understand, answer all of your questions and help you decide if the procedure is right for you.
Nose Surgery Risks
Complications are rare and usually minor when nose surgery is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. However, all surgeries carry risks. To minimize your risk, carefully follow all of your surgeon's instructions both before and after the procedure. Contact your surgeon's office immediately if you experience any symptoms you believe may indicate a complication.
The most common risks associated with nose surgery (rhinoplasty) include:
- Nosebleed, requiring the use of nasal packing
- Obstructed airways
- Pain, swelling or bruising beyond normal levels
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Dissatisfaction with results
There is no visible scarring when nose surgery is performed using an incision inside the nostrils. When the incision is made at the base of the nose or when the nostrils are narrowed as part of the procedure, the small scars are usually not visible and quickly fade.
Nose Surgery Costs
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average surgeon/physician fee for nose surgery in 2013 was $4,545. This figure does not include other costs, such as a facilities charge or anesthesia. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with complete information on costs and financing options at your consultation. The total fee for nose surgery can vary considerably depending on the region of the country, the extent of the procedure and the patient's specific needs.
Health insurance will usually not cover the cost of cosmetic nose surgery. However, rhinoplasty may be covered if the procedure is performed to help with a breathing problem or to correct a deformity. Check with your insurance company to find out if nose surgery is covered and to determine the eligibility requirements.
Nose Surgery Consultation
If you decide that you might benefit from nose surgery, the first step is to locate a qualified plastic surgeon and schedule a consultation. At the consultation, the doctor will perform a physical examination to evaluate the structure of your nose and face and the condition of your skin. He or she will also assess the functions of the nose and check for conditions such as an obstructed airway.
You will be asked to discuss your complete medical history, including existing health conditions, medications (prescription and non-prescription) and vitamins. Be sure to tell the surgeon if you have ever had nose surgery or an injury to the nose, if you have any breathing problems or allergies, or if you smoke.
The surgeon should carefully listen to your goals for nose surgery, fully answer all of your questions and explain the different options that are available. He or she should give you the full details of the recommended procedure, including the benefits, risks, costs and recovery time. Be sure to ask for before and after photos of the surgeon's recent rhinoplasty patients.
As the consultation concludes, you may wish to schedule your procedure, take some time to think or seek a second opinion. If you decide to proceed with the procedure, your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for nose surgery. These instructions will include guidelines for eating, drinking, and medications and vitamins to take or avoid before and after surgery.
Nose Surgery Recovery
After nose surgery, your results may not be immediately apparent. Your face may be puffy, bruised and swollen at first, but will look and feel much better within a few weeks. Noticeable swelling and bruising may last for about 2 weeks before disappearing. You may feel stuffiness in the nose for several weeks and will probably be asked to avoid blowing your nose for a couple of weeks to allow the tissues to heal.
For the first few days after your rhinoplasty, take it easy, get plenty of rest and carefully follow all of your post-operative instructions. Most patients experience mild pain after nose surgery that should subside quickly and be easily managed with medication. Patients are usually instructed to keep their head elevated and apply cold compresses for a few days to reduce swelling.
The splint on your nose and the nasal pack, if used, are removed within a week. All splints, stitches and dressings are removed by the end of the second week. After the splint is taken off, eyeglasses should be kept off the bridge of the nose for a month or so by taping them to the forehead.
Always follow your plastic surgeon's advice on when to resume normal activities. Most patients are up and around within a couple of days, can resume most non-strenuous activities within a week and can return to work in 7 to 10 days. Strenuous physical activity, including sex, heavy housework and vigorous exercise, should be avoided for about 3 weeks. Be gentle when washing your face and avoid bumping your nose for up to 8 weeks.