If You’re Considering Rhinoplasty…
Rhinoplasty, or surgery to reshape the nose, is one of the most common of all plastic surgery procedures. Rhinoplasty can reduce or increase the size of your nose, change the shape of the tip or the bridge, narrow the span of the nostrils, or change the angle between your nose and your upper lip. It may also correct a birth defect or injury, or help relieve some breathing problems.
If you’re considering rhinoplasty, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask your surgeon about anything you don’t understand.
The Best Candidates for Rhinoplasty
Rhinoplasty can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
The best candidates for rhinoplasty are people who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you’re physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.
Rhinoplasty can be performed to meet aesthetic goals or for reconstructive purposes-to correct birth defects or breathing problems.
Age may also be a consideration. Many surgeons prefer not to operate on teenagers until after they’ve completed their growth spurt-around 14 or 15 for girls, a bit later for boys. It’s important to consider teenagers’ social and emotional adjustment, too, and to make sure it’s what they, and not their parents, really want.
All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty and Risk
When rhinoplasty is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility of complications, including infection, nosebleed, or a reaction to the anesthesia. You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon’s instructions both before and after surgery.
After surgery, small burst blood vessels may appear as tiny red spots on the skin’s surface; these are usually minor but may be permanent. As for scarring, when rhinoplasty is performed from inside the nose, there is no visible scarring at all; when an open technique is used, or when the procedure calls for the narrowing of flared nostrils, the small scars on the base of the nose are usually not visible.
In about one case out of ten, a second procedure may be required-for example, to correct a minor deformity. Such cases are unpredictable and happen even to patients of the most skilled surgeons. The corrective surgery is usually minor.
Planning Your Surgery
Good communication between you and your physician is essential. In your initial consultation, the surgeon will ask what you’d like your nose to look like, evaluate the structure of your nose and face, and discuss the possibilities with you. He or she will also explain the factors that can influence the procedure and the results. These factors include the structure of your nasal bones and cartilage, the shape of your face, the thickness of your skin, your age, and your expectations.
Your surgeon will also explain the techniques and anesthesia he or she will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, the risks and costs involved, and any options you may have. Most insurance policies don’t cover purely cosmetic surgery; however, if the procedure is performed for reconstructive purposes, to correct a breathing problem or a marked deformity, the procedure may be covered. Check with your insurer, and obtain pre-authorization for your surgery.
Be sure to tell your surgeon if you’ve had any previous nose surgery or an injury to your nose, even if it was many years ago. You should also inform your surgeon if you have any allergies or breathing difficulties; if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or recreational drugs; and if you smoke.
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
Preparing For Your Surgery
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications, and washing your face. Carefully following these instructions will help your surgery go more smoothly.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed.
Where Your Surgery Will Be Performed
Rhinoplasty may be performed in an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience.
Types of Anesthesia
Rhinoplasty is performed under general anesthesia.
With general anesthesia, you’ll sleep through the operation.
Rhinoplasty usually takes an hour or two, though complicated procedures may take longer. During surgery the skin of the nose is separated from its supporting framework of bone and cartilage, which is then sculpted to the desired shape. The nature of the sculpting will depend on your problem and your surgeon’s preferred technique. Finally, the skin is redraped over the new framework.
Many plastic surgeons perform rhinoplasty from within the nose, making their incision inside the nostrils. Others prefer an open procedure, especially in more complicated cases; they make a small incision across the columella, the vertical strip of tissue separating the nostrils.