Nose Job (Rhinoplasty)

Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005

What Is a Rhinoplasty and Why Is It Done?

Rhinoplasty ("nose job") is the surgical alteration of the nose to change its shape or improve its function. Rhinoplasty is performed to correct breathing problems related to the nose or to correct disfigurement of the nose that has occurred because of trauma or birth defects that cause the nose to take an abnormal shape. Cosmetic rhinoplasty is performed on normal noses to improve their shape and appearance. Rhinoplasty can reduce or increase the size of your nose, or change the size or shape of the tip, the bridge, or nostrils.

Who Is a Good Candidate For a Cosmetic Nose Job?

A good candidate for a cosmetic nose job is anyone who is unhappy with the appearance of his or her nose and is looking for an improvement in the way he or she looks. Candidates should also be in good physical health, be psychologically stable and have realistic expectations.

How Do I Know If My Expectations Are Realistic?

If you are considering rhinoplasty, be sure to discuss your expectations with your surgeon. During your initial consultation, you will be asked what bothers you about your nose and how you would like to change it.

Also, the surgeon will evaluate the structures of your nose such as the underlying nasal bones and cartilage, your overlying skin and your other facial features. After this evaluation, the surgeon can tell you if expectations are realistic and whether the rhinoplasty will enhance your natural facial beauty.

Is There a "Perfect" or "Ideal" Nose?

There is no one nasal shape that will compliment the natural beauty of every face. Today, surgical changes are made to enhance the remaining facial features and emphasize the individual's unique and natural facial beauty. A plastic surgeon can describe the facial features that make you unique and describe the changes that would enhance your appearance.

How Is a Rhinoplasty Done?

Rhinoplasty is usually done as an outpatient procedure under either general or local anesthesia. With general anesthesia, you sleep through the operation. With local anesthesia, you are sedated and the nose is numbed so you are relaxed and unable to feel the pain. The incisions are made within the nostrils and in more difficult cases may also be made across the base of the nose. The inner bone and cartilage are reshaped to produce a more pleasing shape.

What Is a Structure Rhinoplasty?

A structure rhinoplasty is a technique where only minor amounts of cartilage are removed. The change in shape is obtained by remolding the existing cartilage or by adding cartilage grafts. Because only a small amount of cartilage is removed, the structural strength of the nose is maintained and this ensures that the shape will not change over time as the nose heals.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Rhinoplasty?

A nasal splint is normally worn for the first week after rhinoplasty. You can expect swelling and some bruising around the eyes after surgery which will begin to improve after the third day, but lasts up to two weeks.

After that, you will have a minor degree of swelling noticed only by you and your surgeon. This swelling will go away over the next six months. The final shape of your nose will be apparent after it has healed completely.

You should avoid strenuous activity for three to four weeks after surgery. You may return to your social activities in as soon as two to three weeks without any recognizable appearance that you had surgery.

Will Insurance Cover a Rhinoplasty?

It's important to realize that elective, cosmetic surgery is not typically covered under most insurance plans. Most insurance companies, however, typically cover that which is medically necessary. Coverage will depend on your insurance carrier.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic, Department of Dermatology
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, Sept. 2003.

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