Structural issues in the nose can lead to chronic cold symptoms. Some are looking to rhinoplasty to reduce nasal stuffiness, congestion and obstruction. But is surgery really the answer? And is rhinoplasty a good solution for chronic cold symptoms?
What Causes Chronic Cold Symptoms?
Just because you suffer from nasal congestion, clogged airways or restricted breathing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a cold virus. Many people experience chronic stuffiness and breathing problems related to the shape and structure of their nose. These problems can be linked to a deviated septum (deformity of the cartilage between the nostrils), overgrowth of the tissue lining the nasal passages or drooping of the sides of the passages.
Some individuals are born with nasal abnormalities that hinder breathing or lead to chronic cold-type symptoms. Other times, these symptoms are the result of injury, allergies or aging.
Traumatic injury can damage nasal cartilage, or bone, making it difficult for air to pass freely through the nasal passages. Tumors and infection can also lead to nasal deformity. In addition, swelling of the nasal tissues (often related to allergies) and tissue overgrowth can obstruct the nasal airways causing congestion, stuffiness and other symptoms associated with colds or sinusitis.
Even aging can play a role in chronic cold symptoms. Over time, nasal cartilage can weaken and sag, narrowing passages and interfering with normal nasal function.
Nasal Surgery to Treat Chronic Cold Symptoms
Over a half million people a year visit a plastic surgeon over concerns with the appearance or function of their nose, according to The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Rhinoplasty is surgery performed to reshape the nose. The procedure, sometimes referred to as a nose job, is done to improve the outward appearance of the nose.
But it’s important to be aware that the size and shape of the nose can also impact function. “There is a huge functional overlap with rhinoplasty, particularly when we’re doing surgery to make the nose smaller,” says Nick Slenkovich, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon at the Colorado Plastic Surgery Center in Denver, Colo.
Although rhinoplasty alone is a purely cosmetic procedure, when elements to improve nasal airway function are included along with reshaping, the procedure is sometimes referred to as a functional rhinoplasty.
Functional rhinoplasty uses cosmetic techniques to reshape the nose for the purpose of restoring easier breathing. Outward changes in appearance may be very subtle in patients who are not seeking cosmetic changes, but even slight changes in the shape of the nose can impact breathing issues. Other reasons for nasal obstruction, including a deviated septum or overgrowth of nasal tissues, may also be addressed during the procedure.
Depending on your diagnosis, your plastic surgeon may also realign or reshape bone or cartilage to correct deformity or remove excess nasal tissue to improve breathing and nasal function. In some cases, it may even be necessary to add tissue or graft cartilage or bone to provide additional structural support.
“Evaluation of function is really important,” says Dr. Slenkovich. Any operation on the nose has the potential to weaken it. It’s important to assess the structural strength ahead of time to prevent problems.”
Will Insurance Cover Rhinoplasty For Chronic Cold Symptoms?
Insurance will not cover rhinoplasty that is performed for strictly cosmetic reasons. However, functional rhinoplasty that is done to correct structural deformity, improve function or for treatment of injury may be covered, at least in part. Often insurance companies will cover the non-cosmetic portion of the surgery and a percentage of the additional costs, such as anesthesia. Talk with your surgeon and insurance carrier before surgery to determine whether or not your insurance benefits will apply in your particular situation.