Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a rhinoplasty, your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
You may be asked to provide a picture of the nose shape you desire. You may also be given a book to look through to choose a nose shape.
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
You may have general or local anesthesia. You will be asleep with general anesthesia. Local will numb the area. In this case, you may also be given a sedative. It will help you relax. The type of anesthesia used will depend on your procedure.
There are three main components of the procedure:
The nose will be injected with a numbing medicine and epinephrine. The epinephrine will prevent excessive bleeding. An incision will be made either inside the nostril or outside the nostril, across the ridge between the nostrils. The skin will then be lifted off the cartilage of the nose.
Depending on the desired outcome, some nasal bone may be removed, fractured, and reset to a new shape. Cartilage may also be trimmed. Other techniques involve placement of tissue grafts (bone, cartilage, or mucosa) from the patient or a donor or a synthetic graft. They will be used to help remodel the shape of the nose. For example, the tip of the nose may be narrowed or raised, or the slope of the nose may be reduced or increased. The shape or size of the nostrils may also be changed.
Once the procedure is finished, the incisions will be closed. The skin will be redraped over the new bone structure. The skin will be tightly taped to keep it in place. A protective metal splint will then be applied on the outside of the nose. It will help to maintain the positioning during healing. Either soft plastic splints or gauze packing coated with petroleum jelly will be used as nasal packs. They may also be inserted into the nostrils as support during healing.
About 2-4 hours
Anesthesia prevents pain during the surgery. There will be some pain for about 1-4 weeks after the surgery. You will be given pain medicine to relieve this pain.
You will most likely go home on the same day.
To help ensure a smooth recovery:
Stitches will be removed after the first week. Nasal packing will be removed after 1-2 days. The splint is worn for 1-2 weeks or more. Numbness, swelling, or bruising of the surgical area and around the eyes should be expected. Expect swelling and bruising to worsen over the first several days after the surgery. You can also expect some bleeding from the nose, headache, and a feeling of nasal congestion. Once the swelling and bruising have diminished, expect full healing in about 3-4 weeks.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org . Accessed October 14, 2005.
Rhinoplasty. Mayo Clinic.com website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rhinoplasty/MY00425 . Updated April 2009. Accessed November 12, 2010.
Rohrich R, Adams W, Gunter J. Dallas Rhinoplasty: Nasal Surgery by the Masters . 2nd Edition. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing: 2007.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 9/10/2012