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What is rhinoplasty?

Homayoun Sasson, MD
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Rhinoplasty is surgery to address deformities of the nose. Rhinoplasty is the Greek terminology denoting a change or enhancement of the nose, at times associated with improving nasal breathing and function, simultaneously. Its main goal is to restore better proportion of nasal dimensions to the rest of the face, be it as a result of congenital deformities such as cleft lip and nose, trauma, infection and/or cancer, to name a few. It frequently addresses disproportionalities of nasal dorsal hump, wide or narrow nose including the tip, nostrils, nasal height, asymmetries and other numerous types of nasal deformities. At times, it may, inadvertently or by design, help improve or restore breathing as a result of deviated septum or previous surgeries or injuries to the nose. It is performed in two ways, "open" and "closed" or scar-less rhinoplasty, each having its pros and cons and depends on the skills and preference of the surgeon and the problem at hand. When performed properly and conservatively, it can significantly improve the person's appearance and self-confidence and even help alter the person’s life.
Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
Of all the procedures plastic surgeons perform, rhinoplasty is the most difficult. And it is with this procedure that society judges the skills of the surgeon. Even though the first rhinoplasty was performed in 1887, the operation didn't become popular until the 1950s. In those days, radical operations whittled down the nose. With the use of gross instruments the bones were chiseled down, the cartilage was shaved, and the tip was bobbed. Initially those noses looked acceptable. But over the years and decades, plastic surgeons noticed that the noses continued to evolve. As the swelling and scarring decreased and as the skin thinned, the noses began to look overdone -- in some cases, horrific.

In the 1960s, more refined and conservative rhinoplasties were developed. The mistakes of prior decades were noted by the 1980s, and a new rhinoplasty technique evolved. Rasps were used instead of chisels, and a new focus emerged on the proportions, rather than the size, of the nose. Incisions were moved from inside to outside the nose to allow more accuracy.

Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

More About this Book

Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

The public’s recent exuberance toward cosmetic surgery has spurred an unprecedented demand for appearance-changing procedures. But how can an average consumer discern the hype from solid truth? ...
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Rhinoplasty surgery can be defined as the molding or reshaping of the nasal vault (external nose and internal support). Cosmetic rhinoplasty surgery involves improving the appearance of the nose by reshaping the bones and the cartilage. Functional rhinoplasty surgery is performed to improve breathing. A septoplasty involves repositioning the septum (midline internal structure separating each nasal passage). A turbinectomy is performed to reduce the size (hypertrophic) turbinates found on the outer or lateral aspect of the nasal passage. Often both cosmetic and functional nasal surgery are performed at the same time.
Rhinoplasty surgery is performed to change the appearance of the nose. Nasal breathing problems may also be addressed at the same time. Patients may seek rhinoplasty surgery to straigten the nose, decrease or increase the nasal profile, and change the appearance of the nasal tip. The goal of any rhinoplasty should be to achieve a natural and harmonious look that allows the nose to blend into the rest of the face.

Continue Learning about Rhinoplasty Or Nose Job

What is closed rhinoplasty?
Arthur W. Perry, MDArthur W. Perry, MD
The closed rhinoplasty is the traditional operation. All incisions are made inside the nose and ...
More Answers
How do I know if my expectations of rhinoplasty are realistic?
Jeremy P. Warner, MDJeremy P. Warner, MD
If something about your appearance bothers you, then it is very real to you. It's important to have ...
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Jeremy Warner, MD - How is a rhinoplasty done?
Jeremy Warner, MD - How is a rhinoplasty done?
Jeremy Warner, MD - How long does it take to recover from a rhinoplasty?
Jeremy Warner, MD - How long does it take to recover from a rhinoplasty?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.