Rhinoplasty is a procedure to reshape the nose. This may be due to previous trauma causing a mis-shapen nose, or simply having a nose shape or size you are unhappy with. Rhinoplasty can also occasionally help people with airway blockages.
At what age can rhinoplasty be performed?
Many surgeons advise to wait until at least age 16 before undergoing nose reshaping, as the nose is often still growing and changing until then.
Why would you have a rhinoplasty operation?
The most common complaints are that the nose appears too large or long for the person's face, too wide, crooked, flared, droopy/hooked, or too small. Breathing problems may also be improved with rhinoplasty.
How is a rhinoplasty performed?
This very much depends on what needs doing. Occasionally, a 'closed' technique can be used, whereby small cuts are made inside the nose only, and the surgeon accesses the rest of the nose through these small cuts.
More often, the 'open' approach is required. This usually involves a cut across the columella of the nose (this is the nose skin between the nostrils, near the lip), and small cuts inside the nose. The resulting scar is often well-hidden as it is on the skin underneath the nose, which is rarely viewed by other people.
Occasionally the underlying nose cartilage needs building up. This is by using grafts of cartilage from elsewhere - the cartilage can usually come from 'spare' cartilage inside the nose, but may rarely need to be taken from the ear or even the rib.
The width of the nose bridge can also be changed by making breaks either side of the nose bone. The bones can then be moved, changing the width of the bridge.
What happens after the rhinoplasty?
A splint is often placed across the nose for 5-7 days while the bones and soft tissues heal. The nostrils may also be packed with gauze for the first few days.
The nose will be swollen and tender for the first week or so, and you should avoid blowing or wiping the nose for 2-3 weeks. Bruising, which may extend up to the eyes, takes about 10-14 days to subside.
It can take 6-12 months for the swelling to completely subside, and the final result should therefore not be judged until then.
What are the risks of rhinoplasty?
Residual deformity - whilst the surgeon will aim to reshape the nose as agreed, some aspects of the original problem may persist - it should be borne in mind that there is no such thing as a 'perfect' nose, and whilst many deformities can be improved on, some imperfections are difficult, or impossible, to fully correct. Occasionally it may be possible to perform a further procedure at a later date to make further improvements, although this should be after a year or so to allow for swelling to completely subside.
Bleeding - it is quite common to have minor nosebleeds after rhinoplasty, although the bleeds are rarely problematic.
Infection - this may require antibiotics to treat, but is fortunately a rare occurrence.
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Any procedure involving skin incision can also result in unfavourable scarring, wound infection, or bleeding. This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.
The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer