Surgery of the Nose

Your nose is a defining feature of your face and your appearance overall. It is a central focal point that can either lend symmetry to your face or detract from it. For this reason, cosmetic surgery that changes the shape of the nose has long been a popular procedure. In 2017 alone, nearly 220,000 American men and women chose to undergo surgery to change the appearance of their nose. If you are considering this type of procedure, you are in good company!

Nose surgery, also called rhinoplasty, can be an option for those who dislike the shape of their natural nose, for those who sustained a nasal injury or for those who experience breathing difficulties related to nose shape or size. Rhinoplasty outcomes can have dramatic results even with only minor adjustments. The delicate balance of the facial features can be restored without changing one’s appearance dramatically, so you will look like you after rhinoplasty, only better.

If you are interested in finding out whether a rhinoplasty might be able to help you restore your confidence in your appearance, your first step is to find out more about the procedure and what to expect. You can use this guide to learn about the basic elements of rhinoplasty surgery and to get started toward achieving your aesthetic goals. We also encourage you to locate a surgeon in your area that is a member of the California Society of Facial Plastic Surgery (CSFPS), to ensure the physician you choose for your rhinoplasty has the necessary experience and qualification to provide you with an optimal surgical experience and outstanding results.

Am I a Good Candidate for Rhinoplasty?

Nose surgery is a relatively minor procedure that comes with few risks, but it does require good health and adequate recovery time to ensure your safety and satisfaction. For this reason, your surgeon will need to make sure that you are well enough to undergo surgery and that your lifestyle is compatible with the time it takes to heal from a rhinoplasty procedure properly. If, for example, you are a smoker or have a history of excessive bleeding, nose surgery may not be a safe choice for you. Likewise, if you lead a very busy or active lifestyle, it might be best to wait until you can dedicate enough time for rest and recuperation before undergoing this surgery.

Aside from potential health concerns, you should be sure that you understand and accept the limitations associated with rhinoplasty. Many people assume that a surgeon can make significant changes to the nose, or that a surgeon can recreate a nose they have seen on someone else. However, the purpose of a rhinoplasty is to work with your natural bone structure to create a unique nose that complements your face. It’s your surgeon’s job (and expertise!) to design a nose that’s just right for you.

Rhinoplasty can be appropriate for a wide range of skin types, ethnicities and ages. However, it should not be performed on patients who are younger than their mid-teens. The nose does not reach a fully-grown state until around fifteen or sixteen, so it is best to wait until the cartilage and skin in the area have matured before surgically altering them.

You may also want to consider combining rhinoplasty with other cosmetic procedures to further enhance your facial symmetry. Chin augmentation is commonly performed alongside nose surgery to balance the profile of the face. Choosing to have all procedures performed at once can save you time and money. It is important to note that insurance may not cover a rhinoplasty or accompanying procedures that are performed for purely cosmetic reasons. Preexisting health concerns like breathing problems or severe allergies, or severe injuries, may mean that nose surgery is partially or fully covered. You should speak with your insurance provider for more information before scheduling your surgery or surgeries.

Preparing for Rhinoplasty Surgery

Once you have chosen a surgeon for your procedure, you can schedule an initial consultation to discuss your potential rhinoplasty. Keep in mind that you will be talking extensively with them about sensitive topics like your health history and your concerns about your appearance, so select an individual that makes you feel comfortable. It’s imperative that you can speak candidly with them and trust them to understand what you want from your surgery. Your surgeon should also be honest with you about what you can expect from a rhinoplasty and how it will (and won’t) impact your appearance.

Once you and your surgeon have established a rapport and agreed that you are a good candidate for a rhinoplasty, you can discuss the specifics of the surgery such as timing, technique and recovery information. Your surgeon will take photographs to study your nose and facial structure while establishing the details of your surgery.

The Rhinoplasty Procedure

Nose surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. Your surgeon will use local or general anesthesia to keep you comfortable during surgery, so you will need to spend some time at your surgeon’s office while it wears off. Once you are cleared to leave, a designated friend or family member can drive you home.

The surgery itself can take anywhere from one to four hours, depending on your surgical plan. First, your surgeon makes small incisions to access bone, cartilage and other nasal structures. There may be one visible incision along the column of skin separating the nostrils, but all other scarring will be hidden inside the nose. These incisions allow your surgeon to manipulate your nasal tissues. This may include removing, augmenting or repositioning areas to make the nose smaller, straighten the bridge or change the angle of the tip. Your surgeon can also widen the nasal passages to correct for breathing difficulties.

Once the structure of the nose is finalized, your surgeon will seal the incisions and apply a splint to ensure your new nose holds its shape while healing. You may also require nasal packing to stabilize the septum or supports to help with breathing during recovery.

Rhinoplasty Recovery

Nasal packing and excess bandaging will usually be removed the day after your surgery, while the splint will remain in place for about a week post-op. You should be very careful to avoid activities or motions that might bump your nose, particularly once your splint is removed. For example, many clients prefer to wear button-up shirts, so they do not need to pull garments over their head, or may tape glasses in place rather than let them rest on the bridge of the nose.

Most surgeons recommend taking about two weeks away from work, as you will have some swelling and bruising around your nose and eyes and you might feel fatigued as your body heals. The first few days after surgery should be spent resting as much as possible with the head elevated. You may need prescription pain medication but should transition to over-the-counter options as soon as possible. You can use cold compresses or topical treatments to alleviate puffiness or discomfort, and your surgeon can make more specific recommendations based on their experience and preferences.

You should avoid physical activity and sun exposure to keep your risk of injury and skin damage to a minimum. Your surgeon can clear you to resume exercising or sports at later follow-up appointments — typically around six weeks. Your follow-up appointments will be important markers for your recovery as your surgeon will be able to monitor your healing. If you have any questions or concerns between your appointments, you should contact your surgeon right away.

Rhinoplasty can be a life-changing solution for people who are self-conscious about their nose. The small adjustments made during nose surgery can make a big difference in their appearance and their confidence without leaving them feeling like they have made obvious changes to their face. To find out if rhinoplasty is the right procedure for your needs, contact a CSFPS member surgeon in your area today and schedule a consultation.