Rhinoplasty is a type of plastic surgery that involves reconstructing the nose to change its shape. A person can opt for a rhinoplasty to improve breathing function or for cosmetic purposes.

Plastic surgeons or an otolaryngologist, which is an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, can perform rhinoplasty procedures if they have the necessary training and experience.

This article provides an overview of rhinoplasty, including the cost, procedure, and tips for choosing a plastic surgeon. It also covers what to expect during and after surgery.

Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure to alter the appearance of the nose. People may also refer to rhinoplasty as a “nose job.”

A person may undergo rhinoplasty for cosmetic or medical reasons. Rhinoplasty can fix structural problems with the nose that make breathing more difficult.

It is one of the most common types of cosmetic surgery worldwide. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) notes that in 2020, surgeons performed 352,555 rhinoplasty procedures in the United States.

People may undergo rhinoplasty procedures to change the physical appearance of their nose and achieve a specific facial profile. As a result, rhinoplasty can be a form of cosmetic surgery.

Rhinoplasty can alter:

  • the side of the nose in relation to the face
  • the width of the nose
  • visible depressions or bumps on the bridge of the nose
  • the tip of the nose
  • the shape and width of the nostrils
  • the symmetry of the nasal passages

At other times, some medical conditions may require rhinoplasty. Medical reasons include:

  • Nasal abnormalities: A surgeon can treat a cleft lip and palate using rhinoplasty.
  • Nasal obstruction: Structural abnormalities in the nose can cause obstruction to the nasal passages. Although a doctor may prefer septoplasty as the surgical method, a surgeon may perform septoplasty alongside rhinoplasty.
  • Deviated septum: A deviated septum is one of the most common causes of breathing difficulties related to the structure of the nose. Rhinoplasty can help to produce better alignment of the nasal structure, which can make breathing easier.
  • Trauma or injury to the nose: Rhinoplasty can help to reshape the nose after an injury.
  • Complications from a failed primary rhinoplasty: A person can undergo rhinoplasty to correct a previous rhinoplasty.

Before undergoing rhinoplasty, a plastic surgeon will evaluate a person to see if they are suitable for rhinoplasty. They will ask about a person’s medical history and perform a nasal analysis.

The ASPS states that a person may be a good candidate for rhinoplasty if:

  • they do not smoke
  • their face has finished growing
  • they are physically healthy
  • they have realistic goals about their desired facial profile

Research from 2016 suggests that children still undergoing facial growth may be eligible for rhinoplasty if they have an injury or birth disability that affects the structure or function of their nose.

Rhinoplasty is one of the most complex procedures. However, research indicates that rhinoplasty is a safe procedure and significant complications are rare. If a person considers rhinoplasty, they should speak with a licensed surgeon first.

According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), possible side effects of rhinoplasty include:

  • loss of sensation or numbness
  • discoloration of the skin on the nose
  • nose bleed
  • infection
  • scarring
  • difficulty breathing
  • altered sense of smell
  • inflammation
  • swelling
  • pain
  • allergic reaction to anesthetic
  • damage to nerves, blood vessels, or tear ducts
  • septal perforation, which is a hole in the septum
  • unsatisfactory result

Before considering the procedure, a surgeon will review a person’s medical history and assess whether or not a person is a good candidate. They will also assess if a person’s rhinoplasty goals are achievable.

If the surgery goes ahead, a surgeon will require a person to:

  • undergo lab tests
  • stop smoking
  • avoid any medications that can increase bleeding, such as aspirin, herbal supplements, and anti-inflammatory drugs
Questions to ask

A person may wish to ask the following questions:

  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • What surgical methods will the surgeon perform?
  • What are the risks of the procedure?
  • What will I need to do to get the best results?
  • How will the surgeon perform the procedure?
  • Where will the surgeon perform the procedure?
  • If complications occur, how will the surgeon fix them?

A surgeon can perform rhinoplasty in a hospital, an accredited office-based surgical facility, or an outpatient clinic. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) states that rhinoplasty may last from 1.5–3 hours.

According to the ASPS, rhinoplasty includes the following steps:

1. Anesthesia

Rhinoplasty procedure requires an anesthetic to prevent pain. A doctor can administer local or general anesthetic depending on the complexity of the surgery.

If it is a simple procedure, a doctor may administer a local anesthetic to the nose to numb the face. However, if it is a more complicated surgery, a person will require a general anesthetic.

2. The incision

The surgeon may perform rhinoplasty using an open or closed procedure.

In open rhinoplasty, a surgeon will cut across the columella, which is the narrow strip of tissue that separates the nostrils.

A surgeon can use the open procedure for people requiring extensive reconstruction because it allows better access and more visibility of the nasal structures.

If a person needs minor adjustments to their nasal structures, a surgeon may perform closed rhinoplasty. An advantage of the closed rhinoplasty procedure is that it has no visible scarring because the surgeon cuts across the inside of the nose to perform the surgery.

3. Reshaping the nose

After the surgeon accesses the nasal structures, depending on the patient’s expectations, they may make any of the following adjustments:

  • adjusting the tip, length, width, or ridge of the nose
  • restoring symmetry to the nose
  • correcting a deviated septum

To do this, the surgeon may remove bone or cartilage. In some cases, the surgeon will add cartilage grafts. They will usually take cartilage from the septum. Less commonly, they will use cartilage from the ear or rib.

4. Closing the incision

The surgeon will close the incision using a suture, or stitch, and will place a plastic or metal splint on the nose to aid the healing process.

People may leave the same day or spend 1–2 nights in the hospital after rhinoplasty.

The doctor or a nurse will go over the post-operative care instructions that a person needs to adhere to.

The BAAPS notes that these may include avoiding activities that can increase blood flow to the face, such as:

  • bending down, straining, or lifting
  • having a hot bath
  • swimming
  • having extreme facial expressions, such as laughing or smiling
  • placing eyeglasses on the nose

If possible, people should avoid sneezing through the nose. The BAAPS recommends coughing if a person feels the urge to sneeze.

A person should also sleep on their back using extra pillows to elevate the head and reduce swelling.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), a person may resume normal activities within 10 days.

Questions to ask

A person may wish to ask the following questions:

  • What medications will I be able to take after the surgery?
  • When can I resume my usual activities?
  • When will I need to return for a follow-up appointment?
  • What can I expect after the surgery?

According to the ASPS, the results of rhinoplasty surgery are long-lasting.

While initial bruising and swelling should resolve after a few weeks, it may take up to a year for a person’s nose to fully refine to the outcome that the person desires.

A person should aim to maintain a healthy lifestyle and limit sun exposure to extend the results of the new appearance.

A national survey by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) suggests that the cost of rhinoplasty ranges from $2,500–$15,995.

However, an ASPS statistics report from 2020 noted that the average surgeon fee for rhinoplasty was $5,483.

The cost of rhinoplasty may vary, depending on:

  • the surgeon’s fees
  • hospital and other facility costs
  • medical tests
  • prescription medications
  • anesthesia fee
  • medical insurance coverage

A person’s health insurance may help to cover the cost if the person requires rhinoplasty to improve breathing. If people have concerns about the cost, they should ask their plastic surgeon if they offer a patient financing plan.

For those in the UK, the NHS may cover the cost if they require rhinoplasty for medical reasons. However, the cost of rhinoplasty can range from £4,000–£7,000.

According to health experts, a person’s most crucial decision for rhinoplasty surgery is choosing a licensed and accredited surgeon from a competent professional association.

Patients should check that a surgeon:

  • is a graduate of an accredited medical school
  • has certification with the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
  • has experience and professional training to perform rhinoplasty
  • works only in accredited medical facilities
  • adheres to medical education requirements, standards in patient safety, and a strict code of ethics

A person can use the ASPS and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery to find a plastic surgeon.

People frequently ask the following questions about rhinoplasty:

Is it painful?

According to a 2021 study, those who undergo rhinoplasty may experience mild pain.

If a person is concerned about the pain they may experience, they should speak with their surgeon.

How is it different from a septoplasty?

A septoplasty is a procedure to straighten the septum. A surgeon may perform a septoplasty at the same time as rhinoplasty.

Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure to alter the appearance of the nose. A person may wish to undergo rhinoplasty for cosmetic or medical reasons.

There are two types of rhinoplasty procedures: open rhinoplasty and closed rhinoplasty. The choice of which procedure a surgeon will use depends on the extent of the nose reconstruction a person requires.

Although a safe procedure, there are risks a person should consider. Before getting the surgery, people should talk with a surgeon to ensure they are good candidates for the procedure.