Breathe Easier

What is nasal surgery?

Nasal surgery includes any surgery performed on the outside or inside of the nose. A common type of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, nasal surgery may be performed to accomplish the following:

  • Improve breathing
  • Correct congenital or acquired deformities
  • Change size or shape of nose (cosmetic)
  • Repair nasal injuries

What are the different types of nasal surgery?

The following are some of the different types of nasal surgery:

  • Septoplasty. Septoplasty is the surgical correction of defects and deformities of the nasal septum (the partition between the nostrils). Examples of septoplasty include the following:
    • Correction of a deviated septum. A deviated septum is a condition in which the partition (septum) between the nostrils is not in a straight vertical alignment. A deviated septum can cause obstructed airflow. A deviated septum can be caused by a birth defect or injury.
    • Correction of cleft defects that affect the nose and nasal cavity
  • Rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty is the surgical repair of a defect of the nose, including reshaping or resizing the nose. Rhinoplasty may be performed to accomplish the following:
    • Change the size of the nose
    • Change the shape of the nose
    • Narrow the nostrils
    • Change the angle between the nose and lips

Possible complications associated with nasal surgery

Possible complications associated with nasal surgery may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Infection
  • Nosebleed
  • Anesthesia problems

Preparing for nasal surgery

The specific type of surgery will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Severity of the deformity
  • Your tolerance of specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your opinion or preference

About the procedure

Although each procedure varies, generally, nasal surgeries follow this process:

  • Location options may include:
    • Surgeon's office-based surgical facility
    • Outpatient surgery center
    • Hospital outpatient
    • Hospital inpatient
  • Anesthetic options may include:
    • Local anesthesia with intravenous sedation 
    • General anesthesia
  • Average length of procedure: about two hours
  • Recuperation period:
    • Usually up and around in a few days
    • Usually return to school or sedentary work a week or so after surgery
    • Surgeon will provide guidelines for resuming normal activities
  • Some possible short-term side effects of surgery:
    • A splint may be applied to nose to help maintain the new shape.
    • Nasal packs or soft plastic splints may be placed inside the nostrils to stabilize the septum.
    • The face will feel puffy.
    • The nose may ache.
    • You may experience a dull headache, swelling around the eyes, and/or bruising around the eyes.
    • A small amount of bleeding is normal in the first few days.
    • Small burst blood vessels may appear as tiny red spots on the skin's surface.
  • Final results:
    • Healing is a slow and gradual process. Some swelling may be present for months, especially in the tip of the nose. Final results of nasal surgery may not be apparent for a year or more.
    • When a traditional open surgical technique is used, or surgery is performed to narrow flared nostrils, small scars will be located on the base of the nose. The scars usually are not noticeable. Scarring is not visible when rhinoplasty is performed from inside the nose.

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