Your guide to rhinoplasty: Procedure, Causes and Recovery

beautiful nude woman touching nose after rhinoplasty and looking at camera isolated on white

Rhinoplasty is a medical term for a ‘nose job’ and it is one of the most popular elective surgeries nowadays. People may choose to undergo this particular procedure for a few reasons. These reasons can be medical, where the outcomes of rhinoplasty are expected to improve patient’s health or purely cosmetic to achieve a better aesthetic appearance. A nose job may also be needed after certain injuries connected to the nose.

No matter the reason, before you decide to have a reshaping of your nose, you should consult with a qualified plastic surgeon about the right type of rhinoplasty for you, the preparation period, the procedure itself as well as the recovery period and possible risks. You should also discuss with your doctor the desired outcomes and what you expect – you must be very clear about your desires.

1.   Medical reasons for rhinoplasty

Medical reasons for rhinoplasty can be caused by some difficulties in breathing, by skin cancer or by congenital defects such as a cleft palate or a cleft lip. Even though these defects are usually corrected for the purposes of better appearance, they pose a severe problem regarding proper nutrition and should be dealt with promptly.

Other problems might incorporate chronic sinus problems which lead to sinus congestion and nasal allergies, making it a serious problem for the person in question. When rhinoplasty is performed for these reasons it means that the person faces some difficulties involving the nose and breathing generally on a daily basis.

2.   Cosmetic reasons for rhinoplasty

On the other hand, if you need a rhinoplasty due to aesthetic reasons – you have a cosmetic reason behind the operation. In this case, a nose job enhances your face symmetry and makes any necessary changes to make your nose look like it completely goes together with the rest of your face. You can come to the conclusion that you need a nose job if you have a bump at the bridge of your nose if your nose is too narrow or too wide or if your nasal tip is round, fatty or disproportional in any way.

You might also need a nose job if the angle between your upper lip and the lower nose is less than 90 degrees or if you have a crooked nose. As far as rhinoplasty for cosmetic reasons is concerned, you should wait until your nose is fully-grown. This usually means 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

3.   Rhinoplasty due to injuries

Certain injuries to the nose can leave permanent marks. A broken nose bone may heal improperly leaving you with a crooked nose deviating off to one side and thus creating an imbalance with your mouth. It disrupts the whole face symmetry. Other conditions resulting from injuries can be bumps and angles which may make the nose seem odd. Depending on the injury, rhinoplasty can be done for both medical and cosmetic reasons.

4.   Types of rhinoplasty

Every patient’s condition is individual so the type of rhinoplasty suggested and performed by the surgeon will highly vary from personal factors such as the desired outcome, the current shape and condition of the nose, the reason behind the operation and so on.

There are two approaches to rhinoplasty: open and closed.

Open rhinoplasty

An open nose job implies a small incision made under the nasal tip, between the nostrils. By performing an open rhinoplasty, the surgeon has complete access to the structure of the nose so he is able to reshape it or make any necessary changes more easily. This approach is usually used when extensive reshaping is necessary. As far as the incision is concerned – don’t worry – there is hardly any scar left visible, it is hidden in the natural contours of the nose.

Closed rhinoplasty

This approach differs from the previous one in the location of the incision made. In the closed rhinoplasty approach, the incision is made inside the nostrils. It is more suitable for patients who don’t require too many adjustments, changes and reshaping generally. There isn’t any visible scar when this strategy is used.


This special type of procedure involves reshaping only the tip of the nose, without any other structures. Surgeons may opt for an open or closed approach for tiplasty procedure as well. Your surgeon will choose the most suitable approach, based on your individual factors.

5.   Preparation for the surgery

As is the case for most operations generally, you should prepare for rhinoplasty as well. Good preparation will enable you to go through the whole process smoothly and to recover as quickly as possible.


The first step in the preparatory process is to consult with your surgeon. The surgeon you chose will ask for your complete medical history. He will take exact measures of the shape and size of your nose and based on that and the desired outcomes, he will suggest the type of operation needed to achieve the results you want. After taking measures, the medical personnel will take photographs of your nose from different angles. These photographs will later be used for comparison of the original and post-operation appearance. These appointments will be your chance to ask the surgeon any questions or doubts you have about the procedure, recovery and results.

What to avoid and what to use

Swelling, bleeding and bruising are common after the surgery so some doctors recommend applying homeopathic herbs on the nose before the operation. They also advise against smoking, drinking caffeine and alcohol one month before the operation. Generally, smokers need more time to recover as nicotine constricts blood vessels so it eventually results in less blood and oxygen going to healing tissues. There is also a greater risk for an infection. Medicine such as ibuprofen and aspirin should also be avoided as they slow down the blood-clotting process, so they can cause even more bleeding. If you’re experiencing a sore throat, a cough or a cold – it is best to postpone the operation for when you’re completely healthy. It will reduce the risk of infection and fasten your recovery.

6.   The procedure

The procedure can be done in a hospital, a doctor’s office or another surgical facility. The anesthesia you receive can be local or general, depending on the complexity of the procedure. If the procedure in question is simple, your surgeon can give you local anesthesia which will numb your face. That means you’ll be awake but you won’t feel a thing. There is also a possibility of medication through the IV line which can make you feel woozy but awake. On the other hand, if you receive general anesthesia it means that you’ll be unconscious during the procedure.

Once anesthesia starts working, your doctor will make the necessary cuts between or inside your nostrils. Then, they’ll remove your skin form cartilage and start making necessary changes concerning the shape of your nose. If your nose job requires additional cartilage, your doctor may take some from your ear or from deep inside your nose. However, if more cartilage is needed, the surgeon might put an implant or a bone graft in your new nose. The cut is then stitched up either with dissolving stitches for the closed approach or regular stitches for an open approach. Regular stitches need to be taken out about one week after the operation. Usually, a plastic or metal splint is placed outside the nose to hold its shape while it heals. In most cases, the splint and the bandages are removed seven days after the procedure. The complete procedure usually lasts between one and two hours, but depending on the complexity it may last longer.

7.   Recovery

For both open and closed rhinoplasties, the recovery period usually lasts for one to two weeks. People usually go in public one week after the rhinoplasty since the splint can be removed in this period. There is sometimes a little or no bruising at all after the splint has been removed. This is the initial recovery. The full recovery can be expected in the period from one to three years. It takes time for skin to shrink to its new smaller framework so it can take up to one year for the bridge and up to three years for the tip. There is usually little pain present post-operatively, contrary to the general opinion of people.

After the operation, you’ll be kept for monitoring for a few hours. If everything’s okay, they’ll release you the same day. Make sure to have someone take you home since you’ll still be under the influence of anesthesia. However, if your operation was complicated for some reasons, they might keep you for monitoring for a day or two until they are sure that you are completely fine and ready to start your healing process safely.

In order to avoid excessive bleeding and swelling, there are a few tips and tricks out there. It’s a good idea to keep your head in an upright position to avoid dripping from your nose. Even though you try to keep your head upright, some drainage and bleeding are bound to happen. You can make this easier for you by taping a drip pad under your nose. A drip pad is a piece of gauze used for absorbing mucus and blood from your nose. You can consult your doctor about the frequency of changing the drip pad.

If it is possible, have a family member, cousin or a friend stay over the first night since you might experience side effects such as memory lapses, impaired judgment and slow reaction. Headaches are also possible – your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication.

8.   Risks of rhinoplasty

The decision to undergo a rhinoplasty is highly personal. So, before you decide to go through it, take a look at the possible outcomes but also at potential risks rhinoplasty implies. Only then, when all the facts are in front of you, decide whether the possible risks are worthwhile. Some risks include different infections and risks stemming from anesthesia. The procedure can also cause difficulties in breathing, even if there weren’t any before the operation and even if the decreasing of breathing difficulties was the primary goal of the procedure. There also might be some scars left due to poor healing. Pain and numbness in the nasal area are also potential risks. There is always a chance that surgery has a dissatisfactory result – it’s not what you hoped for and therefore there might be a need for a revisional operation. Other side effects include heavy nose bleeding, severe pain, permanent numbness, reduced sense of smell, etc.

The reasons people decide to go through rhinoplasty are diverse. They vary from medical ones, over aesthetic ones to the ones stemming from different nose injuries. Never mind the reason behind the procedure, you should think carefully about the results and consequences and you must be aware of what that actually means for you. You must be certain that you can handle it.

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