Rhinoplasty is the surgical reshaping of the nose. During a rhinoplasty, the surgeon is able to reshape, reduce or augment a patient’s nose for functional, and sometimes cosmetic, purposes. A rhinoplasty may be performed to correct a birth defect, to repair an injury, to improve breathing or simply to improve a patient’s appearance.
Candidates for rhinoplasty should be at least 13 years old since it is important that patients have finished their facial growth before proceeding with this surgery.
Occasionally, rhinoplasty is necessary for younger patients following severe facial trauma. Patients considering rhinoplasty should be in overall good health, should not be smokers, and should have realistic expectations about the outcome. Rhinoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure performed under IV sedation or general anesthesia and takes from 1 to 2 hours. There are two broad approaches for performing a rhinoplasty: open and closed. Open involves a facial incision and direct exposure of the structural elements of the nose. The closed approach involves reshaping under the skin envelope. The surgeon will choose the appropriate procedure for each individual patient.
Immediately after surgery, the patient’s nose and eyes are usually bruised and swollen. Splints and rarely, packing material will remain inside the nose for a few days. Most patients feel like themselves within a few days and are able to return to regular activities in about a week. During recovery, the rhinoplasty patient should refrain from strenuous exercise and showering, use a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and avoid nose blowing, vigorous toothbrushing or any activity that puts pressure on the nose.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved in a rhinoplasty, including excessive bleeding, adverse reaction to anesthesia, and localized pain, discoloration or numbness. Occasionally, a patient may be dissatisfied with the cosmetic results of the operation and a second surgery, called a revision rhinoplasty, may be desired. For most patients, however, rhinoplasty is an uncomplicated procedure with pleasing results.