What You Need to Know About Rhinoplasty


Among cosmetic surgeries performed in the U.S., rhinoplasty is one of the most common. Rhinoplasty is a procedure that changes the shape of the nose. People who feel uncomfortable with their nose’s appearance may choose to undergo a rhinoplasty procedure, but rhinoplasty can be used to improve breathing as well. Rhinoplasty is a safe and effective surgery to change the size, shape, or proportions of the nose, improve a patient’s breathing, or both. Although the changes made during a rhinoplasty are very small, it is a challenging operation. Small changes in the nose can make a big difference in its appearance and function, so it is important to research your surgeon ahead of time and go with someone who is experienced in the procedure.

What Is Rhinoplasty?

In a rhinoplasty surgery, bone, cartilage, and skin can be altered. The upper structure of the nose is bone and the lower part is cartilage, so there are a few options for what can be changed in a rhinoplasty, depending on the patient’s goals. Rhinoplasty costs depend on a few factors. Depending on the policy, your medical insurance may cover the cost of the procedure, but coverage is not necessarily guaranteed. Sometimes insurance will pay for part of the surgery but not other parts, so it’s always best to reach out ahead of time and get a quote for the operation so that you are not caught off guard by surprise costs.

If you do choose to have a rhinoplasty, here is what you can expect. First, your doctor will talk with you about your goals for the procedure and conduct a physical exam of your face, including the inside and outside of the nose to figure out what changes to make and how your facial and nasal anatomy might affect the procedure. Using photographs, your doctor can put together before-and-after references to aid in the discussion of your goals.

Because rhinoplasty is unique to each patient, there is no set series of steps for the procedure. Each surgery is customized to the patient and their goals. The procedure may be performed inside the nose or through a small incision between the nostrils so that the cartilage and bone can be adjusted under the skin with very minimal visible scarring.

The Risks and Benefits of Rhinoplasty

Rhinoplasty risks are usually minimal, and complications are rare. The most common risks include numbness around the nose, swelling, pain, discoloration and bruising, and difficulty breathing. After the surgery you might experience some bleeding and drainage from the nose, which is normal. Healing after surgery is dependent on patient aftercare and so can be a bit unpredictable. Because of this, rhinoplasty typically has a 10-15% chance of revision surgery. Usually this can be done in the office under local anesthesia, but it occasionally requires undergoing general anesthesia again.

Rhinoplasty before-and-after photos usually show amazing results. After surgery there will be some swelling, which can take a few weeks to look better than before surgery  and at least a year  to resolve. Very small changes to the structure of your nose can make a huge difference in its appearance and function.

If you are interested in changing the shape of your nose or improving your breathing, talk to your doctor about whether it is a good option for you. A trusted surgeon can walk you through what to expect from the procedure and help you to make an informed decision.