Home » Patient Resources » Rhinoplasty Facts

Rhinoplasty Facts

The word “rhinoplasty” comes from the combination of two Greek words. The word root “rhino” refers to the nose. The verb “plasticos” means to effect change. Therefore, the combined word “rhinoplasty” literally means “to change the nose”.

Rhinoplasty surgery can be divided into two major groups. Cosmetic rhinoplasty refers to any operation which changes the nose for purely aesthetic desires.

Reconstructive rhinoplasty refers to operations which are designed to restore a nose which has been damaged due to accident, cancer resection, or has impaired nasal function.

Is Rhinoplasty covered by insurance?

Insurance companies typically limit coverage to functional or reconstructive problems. If an injury is old and does not impair nasal function it may not be covered. Only during a consultation can we determine if significant functional or reconstructive problems exist.

How Long Does a Rhinoplasty Take?

Primary rhinoplasty surgery usually takes between 90-120 minutes in the operating room. This may be longer if special circumstances exist.

Revision rhinoplasty procedures may take longer, depending on the problems that exist and the techniques necessary to repair those problems.

Where do the operations take place?

Rhinoplasty operations are almost always performed in an outpatient setting. Dr. Papel performs most procedures in our private, accredited and state-licensed ambulatory surgery center. Anesthesia is provided by board-certified anesthesiologists who have extensive experience with facial surgery. He also has privileges at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Baltimore.

How long does recovery take?

Most patients spend about one hour in the recovery room after surgery. Awakening from anesthesia is usually rapid, but there may be some after effects for a day or so. Upon waking up there will be a tape or plastic splint on the outside of the nose. Packing is almost never utilized. If a deviated septum is repaired, there may also be internal splints. These splints remain in place for one week.

During the first few days, there may be drippage from the nose, which is normal and expected. A gauze pad may be taped under the nose to catch this for the first day or two. Ice compresses are applied to the eyes for the first day to keep bruising and swelling to a minimum.

Pain and discomfort vary with the type of procedure performed. Most patients use the pain medication supplied for the first few days, then find that it is no longer necessary.

The splints are removed one week after surgery, and most patients choose to return to work or school at that time. The bruising and most swelling resolve in the first 7-10 days, and can be covered with makeup if desired.

The final surgical result may take up to 12 months to appear due to slow resolution of swelling in the skin and soft tissues of the nose.

When will I look normal?

By the time we take your initial dressings off, you will be socially acceptable. There may be some residual bruising, but this will resolve in a few more days. Swelling will exist but not be obvious to the casual observer. This swelling will slowly resolve over a period of several months. These changes are slow, and due to the thickness of the skin and soft tissue of the nasal tip area. There is no way to accelerate this process, so patience is required.

When can I resume normal activities?

We ask all rhinoplasty patients to refrain from strenuous activities for 2 weeks. This is to allow the nasal bones to set and gain some stability. Light walking, moving around the house, and doing sedentary “desk” work are encouraged. After 2 weeks, normal aerobic exercise can start again. We ask all rhinoplasty patients to stay away from potential “contact” sports for at least 6 weeks.

How often does Rhinoplasty surgery need to be revised?

Many studies have looked at this problem. It seems that even in the most experienced hands the revision rate for rhinoplasty runs between 10 and 20 percent. Many revisions, such as a rough edge or small bump, are minor and can be performed under local anesthesia. Some are more complex and may require extensive cartilage grafting, and restructuring of the nose.