Rhinoplasty: cosmetic benefits versus health benefits
Rhinoplasty is one of the most common surgeries I perform. Frequently, I am asked the difference between rhinoplasty for cosmetic reasons and rhinoplasty for medical reasons and what are the benefits of each. In order to answer this question, we first need to discuss the different types of surgery that can be performed on the nose. These procedures can be performed in combination or alone depending on your specific situation.
“Functional rhinoplasty” and “septoplasty” are the terms used for internal nasal surgery performed through your medical benefits on your health insurance. This is performed when the septum (the wall down the inside of the middle of your nose) is deviated (moved to one side) and inhibiting your ability to breathe or the ability of the sinuses to drain, causing chronic sinus infections. This surgery is mostly performed inside the nose and relocates the septum to a central location, allowing both sides of the sinuses to drain and air to flow through. This type of surgery is performed purely to improve breathing or sinus drainage and does not include any external procedure to improve the look of the nose. That said, cosmetically if the septum is deviated, the nose usually appears slightly crooked. Fixing the deviated septum usually improves the appearance of a “crooked nose.”
Turbinate repair is another medical procedure that was performed inside the nose. The turbinates are the tissues on the wall of the nose that secrete mucus and swell in response to allergies. In people with severe allergies, the turbinates can swell enough to obstruct breathing and cause problems with sinus drainage and airflow. The turbinates can be lessened in size with surgery. This improves airflow through the nasal passage, decreases mucus secretion and allows the sinuses to drain better.
Polypectomy is another procedure that can be performed medically inside the nose. Polyps are small grape-like sacs that grow from the sinus walls in response to severe allergies. These sacs can cluster and obstruct sinus drainage, impede airflow and cause chronic sinus infections. Polyps can be removed surgically with a polypectomy. Removing these polyps allows the sinuses to empty, improves airflow and decreases sinus infections.
Most of the cosmetic procedures performed on the nose are performed to improve the external appearance of the nose. Cosmetically, there are a few areas people like to improve on the nose. The dorsal hump, nasal tip and overall size can be improved with cosmetic rhinoplasty. When performing a rhinoplasty for cosmetic reasons, it is important to always consider the functional aspect of the nose. In every rhinoplasty I perform – whether cosmetic or functional – I want the patient to be able to breathe better following the procedure.
The dorsal hump is the bone and cartilage at the top portion of the nose. At times, this hump can be more prominent and make people feel as though the nose is hooked or broken. This can be a normal anatomic variance, but it often bothers a significant number of people from a cosmetic perspective enough to seek out surgery. For this procedure, we shave down the bone and cartilage where the bump is to improve the contour and external appearance of the nose.
Tip rhinoplasty can be performed in conjunction with dorsal hump removal, but also is performed commonly alone. Tip rhinoplasty is performed on the very bottom of the nose for patients who do not like the appearance of that area. The tip can be lowered, raised, widened or thinned out without changing the shape of the nasal opening. This surgery improves the appearance of the bottom portion of the nose and the nasal opening.
When patients come in to be seen for cosmetic rhinoplasty, they often just want the nose to be “smaller.” Making the nose smaller usually involves a combination of tip rhinoplasty as well as some version of dorsal hump shaving to make the nose smaller.
Each procedure we perform is specific to your situation and can be combined with other procedures to give an overall improvement in function, cosmetic appearance, or both.
If you have a problem with the inside function of your nasal passages, please call Janiga MDs and make an appointment with me, Dr. Timothy Janiga, for your complimentary cosmetic rhinoplasty consultation or your insurance appointment