Understanding Nose Surgery
THE NOSE OCCUPIES A CENTRAL POSITION ON OUR face. A part from its aesthetic importance in our appearance, a properly structured nose allows us to breathe normally.
- This Quarterly January 2012 -

Trauma or disease could lead to nose injuries which disturb form or function. In such cases, nose surgery, also known as rhinoplasty, would be able to rectify the problems. It can be performed to restore function, clear obstruction, reshape deformity and reconstruct destroyed or missing structures.

Rhinoplasty can also be performed for aesthetic purposes; to enhance the patient’s natural nose or to correct previous unsatisfactory surgery. An experienced plastic surgeon is able to advise the patient on which procedure is suitable to achieve their specific ideal nose and to minimise the risk involved. One of the most challenging tasks is to work on a nose that has been operated on before. There is extensive scarring from the previous procedures and the compromise in blood supply increases the risk of tissue dying and infection. The most renowned example of this is iconic pop singer Michael Jackson’s hole in the nose resulting from too many rhinoplasties.

This surgery can be performed either in a closed or open manner. Closed rhinoplasty is performed through hidden, internal incisions such as within the nostrils. In open rhinoplasty, a small incision is made in the columella, the section that separates the nostrils. This allows the surgeon to lift the skin off and proceed with the procedure. Such surgery will leave external scars. Closed rhinoplasty has less visible scars but usually limits the complexity of a procedure. Certain procedures are better performed through an open approach as it allows better visibility, access and accuracy, leading to better results. With proper scar management, scars from the open approach will become inconspicuous over time.

The downtime for nose surgery is largely dependent on the type of procedure performed. It usually takes about a week or less for the patient to recover. Nose surgeries are generally low-risk procedures. Patients should feel assured in the trained hands of a good cosmetic surgeon. The risk of damaging adjacent structures and interfering with nose function is relatively low.

It is essential to go through a thorough consultation with the surgeon prior to the surgery. Patients should communicate with the specialist to convey their expectations. For aesthetic enhancements, they can present pictures of their desired nose and discuss how the surgeon can achieve similar, if not better, results. The surgeon is then able to manage the patients’ expectations and ensure that the operation is a success. He is also able to manage the patient’s condition post-surgery, ensuring a speedy recovery.