Rhinoplasty at a glance
- Rhinoplasty, also known as “nose job,” balances nose shape, size and angles with facial feature proportions.
- Various techniques are used depending on desired results, including tip grafts to remove or add bone and cartilage.
- Recovery time varies depending on the amount of tissue added or removed, but will last at least two weeks and can take up to a year to fully set.
What is a rhinoplasty?
Rhinoplasties represent the second most common cosmetic procedure in the U.S. behind breast augmentation. Also known as a “nose job” or reshaping, a rhinoplasty corrects imbalances of the nose including size, angles and shape. Most often a cosmetic procedure, some rhinoplasties correct certain structural issues that cause breathing problems and chronic congestion.
Rhinoplasties require delicate artistry and meticulous precision, as it is one of the most complex cosmetic surgeries. The surgeon must redesign and remold tissue instead of merely removing tissue or inserting an implant.
After administering anesthesia, the surgeon makes initial incisions. These incision points depend on whether the surgeon is performing an open or closed procedure.
An open rhinoplasty includes incisions on the outside of the nose. This results in a small scar at the base of the nose that is barely visible when healed. Benefits of this procedure include a more limited dissection of the nasal tissues while offering the surgeon a full view of the nasal structures..
Closed (endonasal) rhinoplasty
When performing a closed rhinoplasty, surgeons make incision points on the inside of the nostril. This method is more complex than the open method because the incisions between the right and left nostrils are disconnected. The surgeon must work within a narrow surgical opening without the benefit of full visibility. Incisions from a closed rhinoplasty are not visible because they are made inside the nasal passage.
After the incision, the skin that covers the bones and cartilage in the nose is raised, allowing for the reshaping process. From there, the surgeon may remove tissue or add grafts from the body or synthetic filler. Once the additional tissue is removed or added and the nose reshaping is complete, the surgeon drapes the tissue and skin over the nose.
Tissue and skin adjust and heal onto the newly remodeled shape. In some cases, such as when a narrower nose is desired, the surgeon fractures the nasal bone. The surgeon then inserts a splint on the exterior of the nose that supports the new shape throughout the healing process.
Recovering from a rhinoplasty
Typically an outpatient procedure, most patients go home the day of surgery. In some cases, surgeons may require an overnight stay in the hospital or surgery center. After a week, the surgeon removes bandages and splints.
Patients should expect swelling of the nose and eyes, along with bruising for approximately three weeks. The new nose shape may take up to a year to fully set. Patients will likely notice small changes within this time as the nose refines to its permanent position.
Risks and considerations
As with any surgery, patients are subject to a low risk of infection and anesthesia allergies. Specific risks of rhinoplasty include septum injury (the wall between the two nostrils), bleeding and serious swelling inside the nose that can cause a nasal blockage. Patients may also experience discoloration and difficulty breathing during the healing process.
Rhinoplasties that remove large amounts of cartilage weaken overall skeletal support that can, in rare cases, lead to deformity. Alternative options, such as reshaping, reinforcing and repositioning, should be prioritized before mass tissue removal. As rhinoplasty is one of the most complex cosmetic procedures, selecting a qualified and trustworthy surgeon is paramount.