Health Encyclopedia

Nose Reshaping (Rhinoplasty)

What is nose reshaping?

Cosmetic nose reshaping is also known as rhinoplasty. This surgery can change the shape of the nose, and also fix some breathing problems. Rhinoplasty involves the resculpting of the bone and cartilage. This procedure can:  

  • Reduce or increase the size of the nose

  • Narrow the span of the nostrils

  • Change the angle between the nose and upper lip

  • Change the tip or bridge of the nose.

Rhinoplasty can be done as a closed or open procedure:

  • Closed procedure. The surgeon works from inside the nose by making a cut or incision inside the nose.

  • Open procedure. The surgeon works from the outside by making a small incision across the tissue that divides the nostrils.

Possible complications

Any surgery has risks. Possible complications of a rhinoplasty may include the following:

  • Repetitive (or revision) surgery. In rare cases, a second surgery may be needed to fix a minor defect that occurs because of the initial surgery.

  • Surgery complications. As in any surgery, there is a risk of infection or reaction to the anesthesia. Nosebleeds can also occur after surgery.

  • Burst blood vessels. Sometimes small blood vessels may burst, causing tiny red spots on the nose. The spots are often minor in appearance but can be permanent.

  • Scarring. With the open procedure, scarring on the base of the nose is possible.

About the procedure

Each procedure will vary. But nose reshaping surgery generally follows this process:

Location options may include:

  • Surgeon's office-based surgical facility

  • Outpatient surgery center

  • Hospital outpatient

  • Hospital inpatient

Anesthesia options may include:

  • Local anesthesia with IV or intravenous sedation that allows you to stay awake but relaxed 

  • General anesthesia

Average length of procedure:

  • About 2 hours

Recovery period:

  • You will usually be up and around in a few days

  • You will usually return to school or desk work in a week or so

  • Your surgeon will provide guidelines for resuming normal activities

Some possible short-term side effects of surgery:

  • A splint may be placed on your nose to help keep the new shape

  • Nasal packs or soft plastic splints may be placed in your nostrils to stabilize the septum

  • Your face will feel puffy

  • Your nose may ache

  • You may have a dull headache, and swelling or bruising around the eyes

  • A little bleeding is normal in the first few days

  • Small burst blood vessels may appear as tiny red spots on the skin's surface

Final results:

  • Healing is slow and gradual. You may have some swelling for months, especially in the tip of the nose. Final results of nasal surgery may not be apparent for a year or more.

  • If you have traditional open surgery, or surgery to narrow flared nostrils, small scars will be located on the base of your nose. The scars usually are not noticeable. Scarring is not visible when rhinoplasty is done from inside the nose.



Medical Reviewers:

  • Lickstein, David, MD
  • Sather, Rita, RN