The FAQs of rhinoplasty

Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson answers some of the most common questions about nose reshaping surgery.

Of all the cosmetic plastic surgery procedures, nose enhancement, or rhinoplasty, remains one of the most common and satisfying for patients. Just as no two noses are alike, no two rhinoplastic procedures are alike. Every operation must be customised so that the result for the patient is a nose that is not only attractive but one that fits their face and is in balance with all of their features.

Rhinoplasty can take the form of nose reduction surgery to reduce the size, or plastic surgery to modify the size and shape of the nostrils, tip or bridge of the nose, or to alter the slope or angle of the nose. Rhinoplasty can also be performed to repair birth defects or injuries to the nose.

Because of the many factors involved in communicating with the patient, planning the operation and carrying out the procedure, the experience and expertise of the surgeon are the major determinant in the quality of the result. I have performed thousands of rhinoplasties in my years in practice and have found that the following are some of the most common questions that patients ask.

Q: How will my new nose likely look?

A: At the clinic we use digital imaging technology as a tool to communicate with prospective patients so that both surgeon and patient can agree not only on what is desired but also what is possible in terms of creating their ‘new look’ nose. I also encourage patients to bring in pictures of noses that they do and do not like.

Clear and accurate communication between surgeon and patient using visual tools allows the patient not only to explain their expected result but also allows for a proper assessment to be carried out and realistic advice to be given by the surgeon.

Q: What is the right age to get your nose fixed?

A: Many patients come to us in their late teenage years and early 20s asking about rhinoplasty. They have been incorrectly told when they were younger and already self-conscious about the shape of their nose that they should only consider surgery when they are much older.

In fact, the nose is completely grown by 18 years of age, and the end of high school is a popular time for young people to have nose surgery, as they are then entering the workforce or moving on to university.

Q: Can a rhinoplasty improve my breathing?

A: If a breathing problem is present, in addition to imaging, I test the breathing function of the nose and sometimes X-rays are necessary to discover the cause of nasal obstruction.
If the septum of the nose is crooked, often referred to as a deviated septum, this can be corrected surgically at the same time as a cosmetic rhinoplasty to improve both breathing and appearance.

Breathing can also be improved by removing or adjusting the turbinates which act as the internal humidifying mechanisms of the nose. In most cases, any difficulties with breathing can be improved at the same time as the rhinoplasty surgery.

Q: Do I have to stay in hospital?

A: Rhinoplasty surgery is performed on an outpatient basis at our fully licensed and accredited day surgery facility. The patient goes home the day of surgery with a family member or friend to act as their overnight support person.

Q: How long do I have to be off work or away from my studies?

A: The normal recovery period for rhinoplasty is approximately seven to 10 days, during which time the patient wears a splint and/or has their nose taped. After this, the nose is still tender and slightly swollen but the appearance is such that patients are able to resume most activities except for contact sports within two weeks.
In conclusion, in my 30+ years of performing rhinoplasty surgery, I have never seen two cases exactly alike. I have, however, noted the obvious gain in self-confidence for all age groups in both men and women.

The wonderful thing about rhinoplasty, unlike age-related rejuvenation surgery, is that it is an operation that if done properly the first time never needs to be repeated. This technically demanding procedure provides great satisfaction for patient and surgeon alike.

Case studies: Rhinoplasty by Dr Hodgkinson

See more before and after photographs, at Dr Hodgkinson’s CosBeauty gallery.

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