Rhinoplasty Facts: What Rhinoplasty Does

Just like bodies and faces, noses come in all shapes and sizes. Although you may love your family and the genes they gave you, it’s okay if you don’t love your nose. That’s why some people consider rhinoplasty, or nose surgery, as an option to change your nose’s appearance. Some examples of changes that can be accomplished via rhinoplasty include:

  • Defining the tip of your nose
  • Lengthening your nose
  • Making your nose smaller or larger
  • Shortening your nose
  • Smoothing a bump on your nasal bone

While it’s possible to change your nose’s shape and appearance in ways that vary from subtle to dramatic, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations. Before you assume your doctor can shape your favorite celebrity’s nose, set up a consultation appointment. Bring with you an idea of how you’d like your nose to look while also understanding that your surgeon may suggest changes that are more realistic given your facial structure and nose shape.

“The nose’s function and appearance is directly related to its anatomy,” says A. Dean Jabs, MD, Ph.D., FACS, an American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified plastic surgeon practicing with Cosmetic Surgery Associates, P.A., based in Bethesda, Md., and McLean, Va. “While many aspects can be changed and altered, completely straightening a twisted nose or performing other procedures that so dramatically change a nose may be unrealistic. The nose has to be tailored to your overall face shape.”

Rhinoplasty Facts: The Surgery

Now down to the nitty-gritty: The rhinoplasty surgery itself. Your doctor can employ a variety of approaches based on your desired results. Two types of anesthesia options can be used. The first is local anesthesia, which involves applying a numbing medication into your nose. Think about this much like a getting a filling: You won’t be able to feel what is going on, but you will have some sensation and pressure. This anesthesia type is used for more minor adjustments, not those that involve bone grafting or larger changes.

The other anesthesia option is general anesthesia. This anesthesia process will cause you to experience a temporary state of unconsciousness, meaning you will not be aware the surgery is taking place.

To access the nasal cavity, your surgeon will make cuts in your nostril to separate the skin and cartilage in your nose from the bone. Your doctor will then trim, adjust or shave pieces of your nose to shape it according to your desired result. If your rhinoplasty involves augmentation, your surgeon may implant or graft pieces of bone onto your nose or apply cartilage from your ear or nostril to enhance your nose.

Rhinoplasty Facts: Your Recovery

Rhinoplasty typically is an outpatient procedure, meaning once your anesthesia has worn off and your physician gives you instructions, you can leave the hospital to recover at home. Listen to your physician closely to ensure you are following instructions for optimal recovery. Pain, swelling, bleeding and discomfort are all to be expected following surgery. You’ll also wear gauze around your nose with a special type of splint over it to protect and support your nose. You can minimize discomforting symptoms through applying ice packs and taking over-the-counter pain-relieving medications, such as ibuprofen.

Dr. Jabs advises patients to take precautions when applying ice packs, however. Putting ice directly on the post-surgery nose can result in skin burns, particularly when you consider you likely lose sensation in the skin following surgery. If you do apply ice packs, ensure the ice is covered with a bag and cloth and use for no longer than 10 minutes at a time to prevent skin injury.

Your doctor will ask you to follow a list of precautions to keep bleeding and swelling at a minimum. This includes avoiding any activity that requires you to move your nose, such as smiling, blowing your nose, swimming, engaging in strenuous physical activity or pulling clothing over your head.

Rhinoplasty Facts: The Results

Don’t be surprised if it takes a few weeks for you to see the results from your rhinoplasty. Swelling and bruising can mask your surgical outcome at times, meaning you may not see exactly how your new nose looks for anywhere from three weeks to up to a year. Your surgeon will schedule follow-up appointments as needed to evaluate your results post-surgery.