Best Answers to 5 Common Rhinoplasty Questions

To help you inform your potential plastic surgery patients on all there is to know about a rhinoplasty procedure before they agree to it, here are the best answers to a few of their most commonly asked questions.

We all want to put our best face forward to the world, and at the center of it all is the nose. Many patients who are unhappy with the size or shape of their noses experience feelings of being unattractive and endure issues of low self-esteem. Fortunately, we live in an age where rhinoplasty can save patients this pain and give them an entirely new look.

A nose job is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed throughout the world. As a result, the vast numbers of patients considering rhinoplasty to correct their nose have a lot of questions. To help you inform your potential plastic surgery patients on all there is to know about a rhinoplasty procedure before they agree to it, I have addressed a few of their most commonly asked questions.

Q #1: When is the best time for rhinoplasty?

With any cosmetic procedure, it is crucial that the patient be old enough to thoroughly understand the procedure, as well as the potential risks and complications that can arise. Regardless of how “routine” a procedure has become, there are always risks.

It is also important that patients seeking out rhinoplasty have finished growing, as this is not a procedure recommended for children. Beyond these 2 constraints, there is no set age at which it is appropriate to have a rhinoplasty procedure; patients range in age from 15 to 50 years or older. The best time for a rhinoplasty is when the patient decides it is time for a change.

Q #2: How do I know what my nose will look like?

When consulting about a nose surgery, a patient and the performing surgeon should always discuss the end goals extensively. There are 2 major factors that contribute to the final results of a rhinoplasty: the skill of the surgeon and the patient’s existing nose structure.

Characteristics that are unique to each individual patient — including thickness of skin over the nose and interior nasal architecture — will affect the end results of each rhinoplasty procedure. Again, managing expectations and having realistic goals are extremely important aspects of the cosmetic surgery process.

Q #3: What happens during surgery?

Rhinoplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia in an operating room. To hide scarring, incisions are made inside the nose, and then the bone and cartilage are shaped to achieve the desired look. Often internal and/or external splints are used to support the new shape of the nose. The procedure takes 1-2 hours on average, depending on the surgeon’s technique.

Q #4: How long does it take to recover?

Following the procedure, patients will experience some swelling and/or bruising. Bruising usually resolves within 10 days of surgery, and the majority of the swelling will resolve itself completely in 3-6 weeks. However, full recovery can take as long as 12 months in some rare cases.

Q #5: Are there complications associated with this procedure?

With any surgical procedure, there is a risk of complications. However, rhinoplasty is no more risky than any other elective procedure. In a few rare cases, patients have experienced some numbing in the nasal tip, septal perforation, or cartilage warping. Again, these complications are few and far between.

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The best way to fully inform your patient about a procedure is to be as honest as possible during the consultation and make the patient feel that they can ask any questions necessary. Peace of mind is the best asset for a patient to have when electing for a plastic surgery procedure.

Robert T. Grant, MD, MSc, FACS, is Chief of the combined Divisions of Plastic Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is also Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. For more information about Dr. Grant or to contact him, visit his website at www.robertgrantmd.com.