What is it? A rhinoplasty can improve both the appearance and function of the nose. The framework of the nose is made of cartilage. Sometimes this can be misshapen or pushed off to the side. This can happen naturally or from trauma. Not only does it affect the appearance of the nose, but can make it difficult to breathe as well. This can influence the ability to exercise and live an active lifestyle. A rhinoplasty can straighten this cartilage as well as strengthen it with something called grafts. It can also change the shape of the nose in many different ways, and reduce “humps” or “bumps” on the bridge of the nose. No two noses are the same, and a detailed consultation with one of the best rhinoplasty surgeons at Lift Plastic Surgery in Houston will pinpoint the areas and techniques necessary to make the best possible improvement for you.
What happens during surgery? Surgical steps will be different depending what areas of the nose need refinement. In general, an incision will be made across the base of the nose and inside each nostril. The nose will be reshaped as needed by using a combination of sutures and cartilage grafts. When only minor revisions are needed, some of the extra cartilage from the middle of the nose or “septum” is removed to use where it is needed. When a major revision is necessary, there is generally not enough donor cartilage from a patient’s own septum, so we need to take it from other sources. This can include ear cartilage and rib cartilage from you. Often, we will use a material called “irradiated rib”. This is donor rib cartilage from a cadaver which has been treated so that it is safe and will not cause any reactions. Studies have shown that it is safe and effective and saves you from having to go through the pain and recovery of removing cartilage from one of your own ribs. If the nasal bones are too wide or crooked, we break them and reset them in a better position. Incisions are closed with sutures and splints are placed in each nostril, as well as on the outside of the nose.
What will my rhinoplasty recovery be like? After surgery, there will be swelling and bruising of the nose, and sometimes the eyes as well. You will not be able to get the nose wet until the splints and sutures are removed 5-7 days later in the office. You will then be able to shower normally. At first, the nose will feel very stuffy, especially while the splints are in place. You should not try to blow your nose, as this may cause bleeding. Swelling will decrease significantly within the first month after surgery, but continues to decrease over time, and the final result of your rhinoplasty may not be seen till a year after your operation. Often your nose will feel very stiff or “woody” for several years after surgery. You will also need to minimize exercise or vigorous activity for 4-6 weeks after surgery to allow for proper healing and to prevent bleeding and worsening of swelling. You should plan for activities accordingly. Cold compresses to the eyes will also help mediate this.
What are the risks? It is important to have realistic expectations when undergoing a rhinoplasty. Significant improvements in shape and function can be made, but it is never possible to achieve perfect symmetry.