Nose Surgery (Septorhinoplasty)

Septorhinoplasty with Graft or Implant

This webpage will give you information about a septorhinoplasty with graft or implant. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a septorhinoplasty?

A septorhinoplasty (or ‘nose job’) is an operation to improve the appearance of your nose and to improve how you breathe through your nose. 

It involves operating on the bones and cartilage that give your nose its shape and structure (rhinoplasty) and making your septum straight (septoplasty). The septum is the cartilage and bone inside the nose that divides the nostrils (see figure 1).

The bones and cartilage that shape the nose

Figure 1 - The bones and cartilage that shape the nose

What are the benefits of a septorhinoplasty?

If the operation is successful, your nose will be the size and shape you want and you will be able to breathe through both nostrils. Most people who have a successful septorhinoplasty are more comfortable with their appearance.

Are there any alternatives to a septorhinoplasty?

If you have a blocked nose caused by a deviated septum, you may be able to only have a septoplasty or submucous resection. A rhinoplasty is the only way to change the appearance of your nose. 

If you have a blocked nose because your nasal bones are crooked or damaged, a rhinoplasty (usually along with a septoplasty or submucous resection) is the only option to improve the way you breathe.

What does the operation involve?

A septorhinoplasty is almost always performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes between one and two hours. 

Your surgeon will make a cut in the mucosa (the skin-like lining inside the nose) and lift it off the cartilage and bone. They will remove the parts of the cartilage and bone that are bent and they will put the rest back in a straight position. 

Your surgeon can refine the tip of your nose by reducing the cartilage. If you have a hump (dorsum) on your nose, they will shave it down. Your surgeon can also straighten and narrow the nasal bones by breaking and then setting them (infracture). Your surgeon may need to support or rebuild part of your nose.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical site (wound)
  • Blood clots

2 Specific complications

  • Bruising and swelling
  • Bleeding caused by infection
  • Redness
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Developing a haematoma or abscess
  • Injury to nerves
  • Cosmetic problems
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Graft rejection
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Toxic shock syndrome

How soon will I recover?

If you had some packing in your nose, it will usually be removed on the morning after your operation. Once this has been removed you should be able to go home. 

You will need to stay off work and away from groups of people for two weeks to avoid catching a cold, which could result in an infection. You should also not do any exercise, have hot baths or bend down. Most swelling and bruising will usually have settled after the third week. 

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice. 

It can take many months for your nose to settle down and for the final appearance to develop.

Summary

A septorhinoplasty is an operation to improve the appearance of your nose and to improve how you breathe. You should have realistic expectations about the results.

Acknowledgements

Author: Miss Ruth Capper MD FRCS (ORL-HNS) and Mr Eoin O’ Broin MD FRCS (Plast) 

Illustrations: Mr Eoin O’ Broin MD FRCS (Plast) 

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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