Rhinoplasty is not usually available on the NHS if it’s done purely for cosmetic reasons, but it may be if it's needed to help your breathing. Rhinoplasty can alter the shape and size of the nose, from the bridge to the tip, as well as the nostrils. Sometimes rhinoplasty surgery is combined with a septoplasty (to correct a blockage in the airway), when it’s called a rhinoseptoplasty.
A rhinoplasty is carried out under general anaesthetic. Depending on the complexity of the procedure it can take between an hour and a half and three hours to complete and most people stay in hospital for one or two nights.
A rhinoplasty can successfully achieve many aims:
- nose reduction (to make the nose smaller by removing some cartilage and/or bone)
- nose augmentation (to make the nose larger by using a graft of the patient’s own cartilage (from the ear) and/or bone (from hips, skull or elbow))
- reshaping (to change the shape of the nose and the nostrils)
- change the angle between the top lip and the nose
A rhinoplasty can be carried out in either one of two ways. An open rhinoplasty involves making a small cut across the skin between the nostrils to access the inner part of the nose. A closed rhinoplasty, which can’t be used for every procedure, involves making tiny cuts inside the nostrils only leaving no visible scars and reduced swelling.
After the operation most patients will stay in hospital for one or two nights. During that time we’ll help manage any discomfort with painkillers.
You’ll probably leave hospital with a dressing on your nose and packing in each nostril which means you won’t be able to breathe through your nose. We’ll explain what you need to do with these dressings and whether you need any follow-up appointments.
You’ll probably need to take a couple of weeks off work and you may not see the full benefit of the operation for three to six months by which time the swelling should have completely gone.
In addition to the normal risks of undertaking surgery under a general anaesthetic, rhinoplasty carries a very small risk of:
- causing permanent breathing difficulty
- damaging the cartilage wall between your nostrils
- changing your sense of smell
- causing heavy nosebleeds
- not achieving the results the patient was expecting
- rejection of the graft
- injuring nerves