Functional vs. Cosmetic Rhinoplasty

Some people choose to get a “nose job” (rhinoplasty) because of breathing difficulties, including snoring or sleep apnea. Others, because they aren’t comfortable with the appearance of their nose. Whichever the reason, rhinoplasty can provide life-changing results.

Functional Rhinoplasty

Some people’s nasal valves are just naturally narrow, while others become impaired through injury or collapse as they age. Functional rhinoplasty involves repairing the cartilage in your nostrils and correcting any structural defects that obstruct your airway to help you breathe better.

Cosmetic Rhinoplasty

Cosmetic rhinoplasty’s purpose, on the other hand, is to improve your appearance. Your nose is reshaped to be more symmetrical and proportional to your other facial features. It can be used to make your nose smaller, narrower, more/less angled, and to reshape the size and position of your nasal passages.

When Function and Appearance Intersect

For many patients, functional and cosmetic concerns go hand-in-hand. For example, a pinched nasal tip or asymmetrical bridge can also compromise breathing. In these cases, correcting one aspect may also improve the other.

However, there are occasions when cosmetic concerns outweigh the functional gain. For instance, in patients with narrow noses and air passages, increasing the width by 1-2 mm could significantly improve the function of their nose. But since their nose would look wider after the surgery, the patient may decide against the procedure.

It’s your surgeon’s responsibility to consider, and help you understand, how cosmetic changes will impact your nasal function. Excessive changes could have significant short- and long-term consequences. Gone are the days when cartilage was completely removed, drastically repositioned or sutured to fit some highly stylized ideal.

Talking to a Surgeon About Rhinoplasty

Since the anatomy of the nose can be unforgiving, rhinoplasty is one of the most demanding cosmetic surgeries to perform. It requires meticulous attention to detail and a comprehensive understanding of the functional aspects of nasal breathing. So, choosing a qualified and experienced cosmetic surgeon is essential for a successful result.

Your Consultation

During your consultation, the doctor will examine the outside and inside of your nose, and perform minor maneuvers to determine if you have any functional issues.

After this initial examination, the remainder of your consultation will be conversation between you and your surgeon. Open discussion is critical to achieving a successful result. Your surgeon needs to understand your goals and priorities in detail. And you need to understand your doctor’s views as far as what is aesthetically ideal and feasible. Your surgeon may use computer imaging to facilitate this part of the discussion — it can give a great visual of your goals, and of a realistic result.

What to Expect

Rhinoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure. That means you’ll likely go home the same day. After the surgery, you’ll need to rest with your head elevated to reduce swelling and bleeding. You should also:

• Avoid strenuous activities
• Brush your teeth gently
• Limit your facial expressions (like smiling or laughing) to the extent possible
• Make sure you don’t get your bandages wet
• Only wear glasses with an adaption device to keep them from resting on your nose
• Refrain from blowing your nose
• Wear clothes you don’t have to pull over your head

You’ll typically wear a splint to protect your nose for about a week. Expect swelling and bruising to be at its worst for the first week or two, but to significantly diminish after two weeks.

Emory Aesthetic Center

Emory Aesthetic Center has highly-qualified cosmetic surgeons experienced in functional and cosmetic rhinoplasty. Schedule your free consultation today. Schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our expert cosmetic surgeons today.

About Anita Sethna, MD

Anita Sethna, MD, is double board-certified in Head and Neck Surgery and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery since 2010. She is also an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine where she has taught since 2011. Dr. Sethna is the recipient of the AOA Research Award, and she is an accomplished expert in her primary areas of interest, rhinoplasty and injectables.

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