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 and making your septum straight. The septum is the cartilage and bone inside your nose that divides your nostrils (see figure 1).

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your nose should be the size and shape you want, and you should 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 have only a septoplasty. 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) is the only option to improve the way you breathe.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is almost always performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes one to two hours.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the mucosa (the skin-like lining of the inside of your 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 removing some of 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 of the surgical site (wound)
  • Blood clots

2 Specific complications

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

How soon will I recover?

If you had some packing in your nose, it will usually be removed the next morning. You may get a nosebleed for up to 15 minutes. Once this has settled 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. Do not exercise, have a hot bath or bend down for two weeks.

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

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

Summary

A septorhinoplasty is an operation to improve the appearance of your nose and 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: Medical Illustration Copyright © Eoin O' Broin


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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