One of the most common plastic surgery procedures, rhinoplasty is performed to reshape, reduce or augment a person’s nose, remove a hump, narrow nostril width, change the angle between the nose and the mouth or to correct injury, birth defects or other problems that affect breathing. In 2009, more than 138,000 rhinoplasties were performed across the United States. The visibility of the nose makes it one of the most commonly corrected features by facial plastic surgery.
During rhinoplasty, the surgeon makes incisions to access the bones and cartilage that support the nose. The incisions are usually made inside the nose so that they are invisible after the surgery. Depending on the desired result, some bone and cartilage may be removed, or tissue may be added (either from another part of the body or using a synthetic filler). After the surgeon has rearranged and reshaped the bone and cartilage, the skin and tissue is re-draped over the structure of the nose. A splint is placed outside the nose to support the new shape of the nose as it heals. Nasal packing may be used inside the nose to provide additional support.
Rhinoplasty may be done using general or local anesthesia. It is usually done as an outpatient procedure.
The results of rhinoplasty may be minor or significant, depending on what kind of correction you want. It is important that you and your plastic surgeon agree on the goals of the surgery. If your expectations are realistic and your plastic surgeon shares them, he or she will probably be able to give you the results you want.
The results of rhinoplasty are permanent, although subsequent injury or other factors can alter the nose’s appearance. Cosmetic surgery should only be done on a fully developed nose. Complete development has usually occurred by age 15 or 16 in females and by age 17 or 18 in males. If surgery is done before this time, continued development of the nose can alter the surgical results and possibly cause complications.
One of the prominent features of the face, the nose can have a big impact on your self-image and appearance. If you’re unhappy with your nose and have been so for a long time, rhinoplasty is a reasonable option to consider. As with other cosmetic procedures, you are more likely to be happy with the results of rhinoplasty if you have clear, realistic expectations about what the surgery can achieve and you share these with your plastic surgeon.
Most insurance companies will not cover the costs of rhinoplasty unless it is being done to correct a functional problem or a defect caused by disease or injury. Even in these cases, be sure to check with your insurance company to find out what portion of the costs it will cover. Costs of surgery include not only the surgeon’s fee but fees for the operating facility, the anesthesiologist, medicines, splints, packing and other services and materials.