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 have caused the nose to take on an abnormal shape.

Cosmetic rhinoplasty is performed on normal noses to improve their appearance. Rhinoplasty can reduce or increase the size of your nose, or change the size or shape of the tip, bridge, or nostrils.

Who is a good candidate for a cosmetic rhinoplasty?

Candidates should be in good physical health, psychologically stable, and have realistic expectations. Anyone who meets those criteria and would like to improve the appearance of his or her nose is a good candidate for rhinoplasty.

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 your expectations are realistic, and whether the rhinoplasty will enhance your natural facial beauty.

Is there a "perfect" or "ideal" nasal shape?

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 may also be made across the base of the nose. The inner bone and cartilage are contoured to produce a more pleasing shape. The tip and bridge of the nose can be reshaped either by removing some bone and cartilage or adding cartilage grafts.

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 that 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 appearing as if 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.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/29/2016...#11011