Rhinoplasty, also known as nose surgery, is a surgery that changes the shape of the nose. Rhinoplasty can change the size of the nose to balance the face, the width of the nose at the bridge, the profile of the nose to remove any humps or depressions, and even the tip of the nose. Many individuals seeking rhinoplasty desire a more symmetrical nose, but it is important to keep in mind that everyone’s face is asymmetric to some degree. The results of rhinoplasty may not be completely symmetric, but the goal is to create facial balance and proportion.
Rhinoplasty is performed using either a closed procedure or an open procedure. A closed procedure is where the incisions are hidden inside the nose. An open procedure is when the incision is made across the columella, which is the narrow strip of the tissue that separates the nostrils.
The skin that covers the nasal bones and cartilages is gently raised, once the incisions are made. This allows access to reshape the structure of the nose.
When reshaping the structure of an overly large nose, bone or cartilage may be removed. There are times when the nose may require the addition of cartilage grafts. The most common cartilage used for grafts is the cartilage from the septum. This is the partition in the middle of the nose. Occasionally cartilage from the ear or even a section of rib cartilage can be used. If the septum is deviated, it can be straightened to improve breathing.
Once the structure of the nose is sculpted to the desired shape, the nasal skin and tissue is re-draped and the incisions are closed. Sometimes additional incisions are placed in the natural creases of the nostrils, to alter their size.
Nose surgery (rhinoplasty) generally requires 3-4 hours or longer to perform.
The risks of rhinoplasty surgery will be discussed between you and your plastic surgeon.
During your rhinoplasty recovery, a splint and packing will be placed inside your nose and a splint and/or bandages will be placed on the outside of your nose to protect the new structure while it heals. After surgery you will need to rest in bed with your head raised higher than your chest. This will help reduce bleeding and swelling. Your nose will feel congested due to swelling or from the splints that are placed inside your nose during surgery. The internal dressings may remain in place for one to seven days after surgery. If a splint was taped to your nose for additional support and protection, it will be removed around one week after surgery.
Slight bleeding and drainage of mucus and blood are common a few days after surgery or once the dressings are removed. A piece of gauze or drip pad may be placed under your nose to absorb any drainage. This gauze should be changed per your doctor’s instructions. To decrease the chances of bleeding and swelling, you may be asked to avoid strenuous activities such as aerobics and jogging, take warm, not hot showers due to the bandages on your nose, and also avoid extreme facial expressions such as smiling or laughing. It is also recommended to avoid blowing your nose and try not to sneeze.
Initial swelling will subside within 4 – 6 weeks, but it can take up to one year for your nose to fully heal and take its new contour. Some temporary swelling or black and blue discoloration of your eyelids can occur for two to three weeks after your nasal surgery. You will be given instructions that will include how to care for the surgical site, medications to take orally and topically to help in the healing process and when you should follow-up with your plastic surgeon.
The results of your rhinoplasty surgery will be long-lasting. Slight changes to the structure of the nose can make a large difference in the look of your nose. If a follow-up surgery is needed, you must wait at least a year.