by Buck D
(Plastic Surgery of the Nose)


Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure to reshape the nose.

Reasons for Procedure

Rhinoplasty may be done to:

  • Change or improve appearance
  • Improve breathing
  • Correct an injury or birth deformity

A septoplasty can be done at the same time to open blocked nasal passages due to a deviated septum.

Deviated Septum
Deviated Septum
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Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Poor healing of the skin
  • Unsatisfactory cosmetic result or scarring
  • Increased risk of nosebleeds
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anesthetic
  • Puncture of septum or collapse of nose bridge—rare

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Age—recommended age is after teen growth spurts and before middle age
  • Prior nose surgery
  • Prior trauma to the nose
  • Medical problems

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

You may be asked to provide a picture of the nose shape you desire. You may also be given a book to look through to choose a nose shape. Computer software may be used to simulate desired results.

Your doctor will likely do the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • X-rays of the facial bones
  • ECG or chest x-ray may be also required
  • Take photographs of your nose before the procedure

Leading up to your procedure:

  • Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
  • If you are having general anesthesia, do not eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before the procedure.

Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to 1 week before the procedure.


You may have general or local anesthesia. You will be asleep with general anesthesia. Local anesthesia will numb the area. In this case, you may also be given a sedative to help you relax. The type of anesthesia used will depend on your procedure and general health.

Description of the Procedure

There are 3 main components of the procedure:

Lifting the Skin of the Nose from the Bone and Cartilage

The nose will be injected with a numbing medication and epinephrine. The epinephrine will prevent excessive bleeding. An incision will be made either inside the nostril or outside the nostril, across the ridge between the nostrils. The skin will then be lifted off the cartilage of the nose.

Remodeling Bone and Cartilage

Depending on the desired outcome, some nasal bone may be removed, or fractured and reset to a new shape. Cartilage may also be trimmed. Other techniques involve placement of tissue grafts of bone, cartilage, or mucosa from the patient, a donor, or a synthetic graft. They will be used to help remodel the shape of the nose. For example, the tip of the nose may be narrowed or raised, or the slope of the nose may be reduced or increased. The shape or size of the nostrils may also be changed.

Redraping Skin Over the New Base

When the procedure is finished, the incisions will be closed. The skin will be redraped over the new bone structure. The skin will be tightly taped to keep it in place. A protective metal splint will then be applied on the outside of the nose. It will help to maintain the positioning during healing. Either soft plastic splints or gauze packing coated with petroleum jelly will be used as nasal packs. They may also be inserted into the nostrils as support during healing.

How Long Will It Take?

About 2 to 4 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medicine.

Average Hospital Stay

You will most likely go home on the same day.

Post-procedure Care

Stitches will be removed after the first week. Nasal packing will be removed after 1-2 days. The splint is worn for 1 to 2 weeks or more. Numbness, swelling, or bruising of the surgical area and around the eyes may occur. Expect swelling and bruising to worsen over the first several days after the surgery. You can also expect some bleeding from the nose, headache, and a feeling of nasal congestion. After the swelling and bruising have lessened, expect full healing in about 3 to 4 weeks.

Call Your Doctor

It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Persistent elevated temperature
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 

American Society of Plastic Surgeons 


Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons 

Health Canada 


Nasal surgery. Facial Plastic Surgery—American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery website. Available at: Accessed September 5, 2019.

Rhinoplasty. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed September 5, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 10/13/2020