Planning your surgery
Good communication between you and your physician is essential. In your initial consultation, the surgeon will ask what you’d like your nose to look like, evaluate the structure of your nose and face, and discuss the possibilities with you. He or she will also explain the factors that can influence the procedure and the results. These factors include the structure of your nasal bones and cartilage, the shape of your face, the thickness of your skin, your age, and your expectations.
Your surgeon will also explain the techniques and anesthesia he or she will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, the risks and costs involved, and any options you may have. Most insurance policies don’t cover purely cosmetic surgery; however, if the procedure is performed for reconstructive purposes, to correct a breathing problem or a marked deformity, the procedure may be covered. Check with your insurer, and obtain pre-authorization for your surgery.
Be sure to tell your surgeon if you’ve had any previous nose surgery or an injury to your nose, even if it was many years ago. You should also inform your surgeon if you have any allergies or breathing difficulties; if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or recreational drugs; and if you smoke.
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
Preparing for your surgery
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications, and washing your face. Carefully following these instructions will help your surgery go more smoothly.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out for a few days if needed.
Where your surgery will be performed
Rhinoplasty may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience. Complex procedures may require a short inpatient stay.
Types of anesthesia
Rhinoplasty can be performed under local or general anesthesia, depending on the extent of the procedure and on what you and your surgeon prefer.
With local anesthesia, you’ll usually be lightly sedated, and your nose and the surrounding area will be numbed; you’ll be awake during the surgery, but relaxed and insensitive to pain. With general anesthesia, you’ll sleep through the operation.
Rhinoplasty usually takes an hour or two, though complicated procedures may take longer. During surgery the skin of the nose is separated from its supporting framework of bone and cartilage, which is then sculpted to the desired shape. The nature of the sculpting will depend on your problem and your surgeon’s preferred technique. Finally, the skin is redraped over the new framework.
Many plastic surgeons perform rhinoplasty from within the nose, making their incision inside the nostrils. Others prefer an “open” procedure, especially in more complicated cases; they make a small incision across the columella, the vertical strip of tissue separating the nostrils.
When the surgery is complete, a splint will be applied to help your nose maintain its new shape. Nasal packs or soft plastic splints also may be placed in your nostrils to stabilize the septum, the dividing wall between the air passages.