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Because many individuals are not satisfied with the image, shape, or projection of their nose, the desire to improve its contour has led them to one of the most popular procedures in the United States. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), more than 300,000 men and women underwent rhinoplasty in 2004. Everyone wants to feel proud of their looks and confident in their image, and plastic surgery helps many individuals meet their cosmetic goals. The primary application of rhinoplasty, which is commonly called nose surgery, is one of aesthetics. Although it may also be used to correct an injury, birth defect, or breathing problem.

The information on PlasticSurgery.com provides you with a good introduction to rhinoplasty, but it is not medical advice. When considering rhinoplasty, or any other plastic surgery procedure for that matter, we recommend that you consult a qualified doctor with experience in rhinoplasty. To get started, you can search through our profiles of plastic surgeons from around the country.

Ideal Rhinoplasty Candidates

As with any plastic surgery procedure, the best patients for rhinoplasty surgery include those who are seeking general improvement, not perfection. Ideal candidates for nose surgery should be in good physical and psychological health, and have realistic expectations. It is important to note however, that most plastic surgeons will not perform rhinoplasty on a patient until he or she has completed their growth spurt. This usually means age 16 or older for females and 17 or older for males. A teenager’s social and emotional adjustment will also be taken into consideration.

Choosing a Rhinoplasty Surgeon

Plastic surgery is a big deal, so when it comes to choosing the right doctor for your procedure, find someone you can trust. Most individuals select their doctor based on recommendations from a friend or loved one, while others may research physicians online and find one on their own. However when you find names of plastic surgeons in your area, be sure to meet with a few first before making your decision. The initial consultation is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have about rhinoplasty, as well as learn of the risks, uncertainties, and complications of plastic surgery.

It may be in your best interest to select a rhinoplasty surgeon who is board certified, although there are numerous doctors with experience who do not hold certification. A board certified plastic surgeon has extensive surgical training and has completed one of the most rigorous training programs amongst all medical specialty-training programs. This training includes graduating from an accredited medical school and completing at least five years of additional residency. That means they have met the requirements needed to perform plastic surgery on the face and all parts of the body.

The Nose Surgery Procedure

Rhinoplasty surgery generally takes about an hour or two. Performed under a general or local anesthetic, the procedure may be administered in a hospital or at an outpatient surgical suite. Nose surgery can be performed with either the “open” or “closed” technique. The nature of your incision will depend on your condition and the surgeon’s preference. Some doctors find that the open technique gives the best results, providing that the plastic surgeon has good visibility of the internal structures of the nose. It involves placing a small surgical incision inside the nostrils, across the columella — the vertical strip of tissue separating the nostrils. The closed technique is virtually scarless, which is also favored by many doctors. Because it does not require an external incision, rhinoplasty is performed strictly inside the nose. Typically, in having the closed technique performed, you should heal quickly, while swelling is more prominent and takes longer to subside in using the open rhinoplasty approach.

Possible Risks and Complications

Complications are usually minor with nose surgery, but all plastic surgery carries risks and side effects. Some possibilities include:

  • Infection
  • Nose bleed
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Need for a second procedure
  • Burst blood vessels
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • “Stuffy nose” sensation
  • Delays in healing process
  • Numbness

For a positive experience with plastic surgery, you should have a doctor address all of your concerns before deciding that rhinoplasty is right for you.


Regardless of the surgical technique used (i.e. “open” vs. “closed”), a splint is applied following rhinoplasty surgery, and the nose is lightly packed with surgical gauze. It is important to change the gauze bandages a few times each day during the first few days following nose surgery, because you may experience minor bleeding. Most rhinoplasty patients are able to resume normal to light activity within a few days. Keep in mind that it will take several weeks before the nose is completely healed, which you will then be able to return to full physical activity. In order to better understand the outcome of your surgery, after the recovery process, ask to see your surgeon’s before and after nose surgery photos.

To relieve the pain, headache, and any other discomfort associated with rhinoplasty, your plastic surgeon may prescribe pain medication. Also, applying cold compresses to the treatment area will reduce associated pain and swelling.


Rhinoplasty produces permanent results. However healing is usually a slow process, and in some cases it may take over a year before one can accurately judge the permanent outcome of their surgery. This is due to the constant changing and healing of the nasal tissues, blood flow, skin thickness, and other factors. While rhinoplasty surgery will result in a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, a second surgery may be required to achieve an optimal outcome.