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How Does a Rhinoplasty Work?

If you’ve ever been dissatisfied with the way your nose looks or functions, you might have considered getting a rhinoplasty procedure done. “Rhinoplasty” is a big, technical term referring to what most people colloquially call a “nose job”—plastic surgery on the nose. However, there are many misconceptions about how a rhinoplasty works, and what it entails—as well as who it’s for.

If you’re looking to learn more about rhinoplasty procedures, you’re in the right place.


The Basics of Nose Anatomy


Many plastic surgeons consider rhinoplasty procedures to be difficult. This is for a few different reasons. First and foremost, the nose is an extremely noticeable part of the human face, and we’re all wired to instantly recognize and assess faces. A slight deformation could mean the difference between a characteristically “attractive” nose and an unattractive one, and if the change is too sudden or too drastic, it could cause a person to experience stress when adjusting to their new life.

Additionally, the nose is made up of multiple different structures; the upper portion of the nose is bone, while the lower portion is made of cartilage. A rhinoplasty can involve alterations to the bone, the cartilage, the skin, or all three.



Why People Get Rhinoplasty Procedures


Most people believe that a rhinoplasty is a purely cosmetic procedure, meant to make people feel more attractive. While there are certainly a number of people who sign up for a rhinoplasty simply to improve their physical beauty, there are several other motivations that could come into play, including:

  • Recovering from an injury. Occasionally, an injury can deform or negatively impact your nose in a permanent way. If you want to return your face to the way it used to look, plastic surgery is one of your only options.
  • Correcting a birth defect. Some people are born with a defect that makes their nose appear irregular, which can be associated with a lifelong emotional burden. A rhinoplasty has the power to make these patients feel better about themselves.
  • Improving breathing difficulties. Most of us breathe primarily through the nose, so if the nose is misshapen or if it isn’t functioning properly, we won’t be able to breathe in a normal, easy, or healthy way. If you suffer from breathing difficulties in the nose, or if you have a snoring problem, a rhinoplasty could be exactly what you need.

Keep in mind that even the people who seek a rhinoplasty for purely “cosmetic” reasons often desire the procedure to alleviate feelings of depression, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues that can arise from hating the way you look. In many cases, after plastic surgery, these patients return to their normal lives happier, more confident, and more fulfilled.


Types of Rhinoplasty


There are a few different types of rhinoplasty procedure, though even a standard “rhinoplasty” can take many different forms, depending on which nose structures are altered. For example, in addition to a regular rhinoplasty, you may undergo a septoplasty. A septoplasty specifically targets the septal cartilage deep in the nose, straightening it to assist with air passage. This is usually reserved for patients who have difficulty breathing, or those who snore at night; widening these air passages can instantly alleviate air flow problems.

You may also undergo a revision rhinoplasty. As the name suggests, this is designed to “revise” the work of a previous rhinoplasty. Remember, the nose is a very noticeable facial structure, so even a tiny change can make a big difference; if you aren’t happy with the way you look after a rhinoplasty, or if the procedure didn’t go quite the way you expected, you may want to go under the knife once again. Revision rhinoplasties tend to be very challenging, both to plan and to execute, so make sure you work with someone who has specific experience in this field.

In any case, you’ll work directly with your plastic surgeon to identify your goals and come up with a plan for the surgical procedure. Depending on your wants and needs, you’ll come up with a model for your future nose, and your plastic surgeon will devise a method of approach.


The Rhinoplasty Procedure


There are two different ways to approach a rhinoplasty. In a closed rhinoplasty, the plastic surgeon will use several incisions inside the nose to access the bone, cartilage, and other underlying structures for alteration. This is a less invasive style of surgery, but it makes it more difficult to modify the structures of the nose; generally, it’s reserved for surgeries where only minor alterations are needed.

In an open rhinoplasty, the plastic surgery uses a small external incision on the columella, granting “open” access to all your nasal structures. In many cases, the surgeon will rely on cartilage from the septum to reform and/or rebuild other areas of the nose.



Preparation and Recovery


When you’re ready to move forward with a rhinoplasty procedure, you’ll meet with your plastic surgeon and undergo a physical exam. You’ll also need to provide a full medical history, and discuss your goals with the procedure. Your surgeon will also take detailed photos and scans of your face to use as a basis for planning the procedure.

At this point, your surgeon will talk with you about your personal situation. They may present specific risks you may face if you undergo the procedure, talk about your recovery, and give you an idea of what kind of results you should expect.

The procedure itself relies on general anesthesia, but is considered an outpatient procedure, taking about 3 to 4 hours to complete. When done, recovery can take up to 1 to 2 weeks. In the meantime, you might experience some bruising and swelling in the nose, and you’ll need to take some extra precautions—like being careful not to pull clothing over your head, and taking care of your bandages.

Are you interested in learning more about rhinoplasties? Or are you interested in having a rhinoplasty procedure yourself? Contact us at Sieber Plastic Surgery for a free consultation today!

Dr. Dave Sieber and his staff are so awesome! Dr. Sieber is personable yet professional, his work is impeccable. He listens to his patient and works with them to achieve what they want. He’s like my hair dresser, a magician, you just want to do a happy dance with the results, only these results are lasting. Ok, but seriously, the procedure was very smooth, the staff and the doctors (Dr Sieber and the anesthesiologist) had great communication and made sure I was comfortable with very clear and concise pre op and post op directions. The healing process was very easy and the results are FABULOUS. Side note, Dr. Sieber has really awesome skin, I feel like this is impressive and important because really, would you trust a dentist with bad teeth? I am so elated and satisfied with the results, the size is perfect and they look and feel very natural. They are exactly what I wanted.*

SF Scientist

Dr. Sieber is a doctor who is not only extremely knowledgeable about the latest in cosmetic procedures, but a doctor who truly cares about his patients. I highly recommend him!*


Dr. Sieber is a doctor who is not only extremely knowledgeable about the latest in cosmetic procedures, but a doctor who truly cares about his patients. I highly recommend him!*


Dr. Sieber is attentive, responsive, and well trained. I had seen him for Botox and filler and he had done both without any pain or bruising and more importantly the results were fabulous. He has met with me on time at each appointment. He communicates what to expect, made sure I was comfortable throughout the procedure, checked on my healing every day post procedure. He couldn’t be more delightful not more talented. I had seen other plastic surgeons for in office treatments over the past decade and Dr. Sieber is at the top of the list in terms of delivering the desired outcome and high quality care.*

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