What is rhinoplasty?
Usually thought of as a cosmetic surgery, rhinoplasty is performed for a number of reasons, including nasal deformities, a deviated septum or other struggles with breathing. Rhinoplasty can help to improve breathing and comfort in everyday life.
Head and neck surgeon Jeffrey Steitz, MD, explained how rhinoplasty is performed and what you can expect during your recovery.
What is rhinoplasty?
“Rhinoplasty is also called nose reshaping surgery,” said Dr. Steitz. “Essentially, we can use this kind of surgery to make changes to the shape of the nose in order to improve either the aesthetic look and to help with medical concerns.”
Rhinoplasty is an outpatient surgery, so patients head home usually the same day as the surgery is performed. Before the surgery is performed, your surgeon will take some computer imaging that shows your nose as it is now and what it is likely to look like post-surgery and meet with you to go over the images. This helps keep patients very involved in the outcome.
There are two ways rhinoplasty is performed:
- Closed rhinoplasty is when surgical incisions are made within the nose, with all changes made from within.
- Open rhinoplasty uses the same internal incisions but includes an external incision that connects the other two.
How can rhinoplasty improve the function of my nose?
“Not all noses are created with the ability to really breathe well,” said Dr. Steitz. “Many of our patients present with a nose that simply isn’t functioning well. They may have a deviated septum, a nasal valve collapse or a previous fracture that caused long-term problems.”
Rhinoplasty can address these problems by improving the overall form and function of the nose. Those with a deviated septum can go from struggling to take a deep nasal inhale to doing so with ease.
Is rhinoplasty painful?
You’ll be under anesthesia during the surgery, so you should remain completely comfortable. Pain control techniques are used afterward during recovery to help control any pain or discomfort you may feel.
What is recovery like?
“After surgery, we place a plastic splint on the outside of the nose that remains in place for seven days,” said Dr. Steitz. “The splint helps to reduce swelling and keeps everything stable to help the changes made settle during immediate recovery.”
Patients may have swelling around the area with some bruising right away. Bruising and discomfort should go down during the first couple of weeks. Those who received a graft (in some cases, grafting material is needed from the rib or ear) may have some additional pain, but treatment options are available.
Most people are off pain medication within the first couple of days.
What are the risks of rhinoplasty?
“Risks with rhinoplasty are pretty minimal,” said Dr. Steitz. “Overall, it’s a very safe operation. There are a few risks that mostly line up with the risks of any outpatient surgery.”
Risks of rhinoplasty include:
- Possibility of scarring or poor wound healing
- Lingering pain or numbness in the area
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Prolonged swelling
- Prolonged discoloration
- Unsatisfactory outcome requiring revision surgery
- For those who use grafted tissue, there are additional risks coming from the removal of cartilage
- Rarely, perforation of the nasal septum
All these risks are discussed during pre-surgery appointments, so you can speak with your surgeon to get a more complete look at the risks and benefits.
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