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If you have a bent, crooked or misaligned nose then it’s probably not only affecting your health but your self-confidence as well. Whether these issues are a result of an injury, an accident or genetic misalignment, a procedure known as rhinoplasty may be worth considering. But what is rhinoplasty surgery?

What Is Rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty is surgery that’s undertaken to reshape or adjust a nose’s internal structure and it can be performed by plastic surgeons or specialist oral maxillofacial surgeons. It normally involves adjusting or reshaping cartilage, and nasal surgery can change the size of the nose as well as its profile and width. The tip of the nose, the shape of the nostrils and the balance of the nose or its nasal symmetry can also be altered.

Almost all rhinoplasty procedures are done by making a small incision on the inside of the nose, which means there are no visible cuts or subsequent scars to the face. ‘Septo-rhinoplasty’ which is pretty much what happens with most rhinoplasty procedures is where both the septum (septal cartilage) and the nasal cartilages and bones are adjusted in the one procedure. People with a deviated septum often have both breathing difficulties and crooked noses.

However, rhinoplasty is a serious procedure that requires a significant degree of consideration. It is especially important to take into account any prior nasal surgery that’s been undertaken as it can have an impact on future rhinoplasty procedures

What Conditions Can Rhinoplasty Correct?

Rhinoplasty can treat a range of conditions including assisting patients with breathing difficulties caused by structural abnormalities or nasal obstructions in the nose. These can be caused by birth defects or due to injury such as a broken nose.

Nose surgery is also often performed on patients who are simply unhappy with the shape and/or function of their nose. It can improve its appearance and proportion and go a long way towards increasing a person’s self-confidence.

What Do I Need To Consider Before Having Rhinoplasty?

There are some important issues that patients need to keep in mind before undertaking plastic surgery of the nose. For example, surgeons can only work with your nose’s existing bone and cartilage structure, so there are limits to how far they can alter its shape. That’s why your surgeon will need to understand why you want to undergo the operation so they can decide what the best strategy is for reconstructing your nose. Nose surgery to improve an obstructed airway, in particular, requires a careful evaluation of your nasal structure as it relates to airflow and breathing.

Before you proceed with rhinoplasty surgery you should also think about the financial outlay as cosmetic surgery doesn’t usually qualify for Medicare or private health insurance rebates. The final results can also take up to 12 months to emerge, so it’s important to factor timing into your decision. Smokers are also at increased risk of complications so if you’re serious about undergoing surgery, you should consider quitting.

What Will My Surgeon Need To Know Before We Proceed?

Before the operation, your surgeon will discuss with you a range of medical issues including finding out more about your physical health and your medical history. This is because some pre-existing conditions may influence whether the operation can go ahead.

They will also talk to you about the risk and possible complications and the anaesthetic that will be used. Both general and local anaesthetic are options and the final decision on what’s used will depend on your health, the extent of your surgery and your surgeon’s preference.

At this stage, you should tell your surgeon about any regular medications you take including vitamin supplements, and whether you’ve had any past reactions to medications.

If nose surgery is to go ahead, your surgeon will then give you detailed instructions on how you should prepare for surgery, including whether you need to take additional medications or alter the ones you’re currently on. If you have tissue swelling due to trauma or injury, they may prescribe a course of antibiotics to take before surgery to reduce the risk of infection.

What’s Involved In Rhinoplasty Surgery?

The nature of nasal surgery depends on the reasons for having it, but the process usually involves a patient firstly being given a general or local anaesthetic. If they are having surgery to repair a broken nose, slender instruments will normally be inserted into each nostril to gently push the bones back to their proper alignment.

Cosmetic surgery can involve ‘open’ or ‘closed’ techniques. An ‘open’ technique involves accessing the nasal bones through incisions inside the nostrils and through the columella, which is the narrow strip of tissue that separates the nostrils. A ‘closed’ technique involves accessing the nasal bones through incisions hidden inside the nostrils. After the incisions are made, the skin is lifted away from the underlying bones and cartilages.

Surgical procedures may also include chiselling or breaking nasal bones and then realigning them or the nose cartilage may be trimmed back. In all instances, incisions are closed with dissolving stitches.

What Happens After Rhinoplasty Surgery?

After rhinoplasty surgery, patients can expect pain, numbness, the sensation of a stuffy nose and swelling and bruising, mainly around the eyes. This should go down in a few days and bruising should subside in the first week or two.

Patients will normally have splints and dressings to support healing and the inside of the nose will be packed with special gauze. The splint will help to minimise swelling and keep the nose in its new profile while healing takes place. Patients will have to breathe through their mouth until the packing gauze is removed.

Complications can also occur afterwards as all surgery carries some degree of risk. With nasal surgery, these can include bleeding or infection, sudden nosebleeds, delays in healing and irregularities in the shape of the nose, which may settle over time.

What Is The Long-Term Outlook If I Have It?

Even though initial swelling subsides within a few weeks after surgery, it can take up to a year for your nose to adjust to its final profile. As soon as dressings are removed, patients may notice a difference in their nose shape and gradual changes in its appearance as it refines to a more permanent outcome.

The results of nose surgery are also usually permanent, however, if you’ve had a broken nose, it still won’t be as strong as it was, even after healing. This means you are still at risk of it fracturing again if you experience a blow to the face. If you play sports, protective headgear is a must! 

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