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The term rhinoplasty means "nose molding" or "nose forming." It refers to a procedure in plastic surgery in which the structure of the nose is changed. The change can be made by adding or removing bone or cartilage, grafting tissue from another part of the body, or implanting synthetic material to alter the shape of the nose.
Rhinoplasty is the most frequently performed cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States as of the early 2000s. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 356,554 rhinoplasties were performed in the United States in 2003, compared to 254,140 breast augmentations and 128,667 facelifts.


Rhinoplasty is most often performed for cosmetic reasons. A nose that is too large, crooked, misshapen, malformed at birth, or deformed by an injury or cancer surgery can be given a more pleasing appearance. If breathing is impaired due to the form of the nose or to an injury, it can often be improved with rhinoplasty.


The best candidates for rhinoplasty are those with relatively minor deformities. Nasal anatomy and proportions are quite varied and the final look of any rhinoplasty operation is the result of the patient's anatomy, as well as of the surgeon's skill.
The quality of the skin plays a major role in the outcome of rhinoplasty. Patients with extremely thick skin may not see a definite change in the underlying bone structure after surgery. On the other hand, thin skin provides almost no cushion to hide the most minor of bone irregularities or imperfections.
A cosmetic change in the shape of the nose will change a person's appearance, but it will not change self-image. A person who expects a different lifestyle after rhinoplasty is likely to be disappointed.
Rhinoplasty should not be performed until the pubertal growth spurt is complete, between ages 14-15 for girls and older for boys.
The cost of rhinoplasty depends on the difficulty of the work required and on the specialist chosen. Prices run from about $3,000 to over $6,000. If the problem was caused by an injury, insurance will usually cover the cost. A rhinoplasty done only to change a person's appearance is not usually covered by insurance.


The external nose is composed of a series of interrelated parts which include the skin, the bony pyramid, cartilage, and the tip of the nose, which is both cartilage and skin. The strip of skin separating the nostrils is called the columella.
Surgical approaches to nasal reconstruction are varied. Internal rhinoplasty involves making all incisions inside the nasal cavity. The external or "open" technique involves a skin incision across the base of the nasal columella. An external incision allows the surgeon to expose the bone and cartilage more fully and is most often used for complicated procedures. During surgery, the surgeon will separate the skin from the bone and cartilage support. The framework of the nose is then reshaped in the desired form. Shape can be altered by removing bone, cartilage, or skin. The remaining skin is then replaced over the new framework. If the procedure requires adding to the structure of the nose, the donated bone, cartilage, or skin can come from the patient or from a synthetic source.
When the operation is over, the surgeon will apply a splint to help the bones maintain their new shape. The nose may also be packed, or stuffed with a dressing, to help stabilize the septum.
When a local anesthetic is used, light sedation is usually given first, after which the operative area is numbed. It will remain insensitive to pain for the length of the surgery. A general anesthetic is used for lengthy or complex procedures or if the doctor and patient agree that it is the best option.
Simple rhinoplasty is usually performed in an outpatient surgery center or in the surgeon's office. Most procedures take only an hour or two, and patients may return home right away. Complex procedures may be done in the hospital and require a short stay.


During the initial consultation, the patient and surgeon will determine what changes can be made in the shape of the nose. Most doctors take photographs at the same time. The surgeon will also explain the techniques and anesthesia options available to the patient.
For legal reasons, many plastic surgeons now screen patients for psychological stability as well as general physical fitness for surgery. When a person consults a plastic surgeon about a rhinoplasty, the doctor will spend some time talking with the patient about his or her motives for facial surgery. The following are considered psychological warning signs:
  • The patient is considering surgery to please someone else, most often a spouse or partner.
  • The patient expects facial surgery to guarantee career advancement.
  • The patient has a history of multiple cosmetic procedures and/or complaints about previous surgeons.
  • The patient thinks that the surgery will solve all his or her life problems.
  • The patient has an unrealistic notion of what he or she will look like after surgery.
  • The patient seems otherwise emotionally unstable.
The patient and surgeon should also discuss guidelines for eating, drinking, smoking, taking or avoiding certain medications, and washing of the face.


Patients usually feel fine immediately after surgery; however, most surgery centers do not allow patients to drive themselves home after an operation.
The first day after surgery there will be some swelling of the face. Patients should stay in bed with their heads elevated for at least a day. The nose may hurt and a headache is not uncommon. The surgeon will prescribe medication to relieve these conditions. Swelling and bruising around the eyes will increase for a few days, but will begin to diminish after about the third day. Slight bleeding and stuffiness are normal, and vary according to the extensiveness of the surgery performed. Most people are up in two days, and back to school or work in a week. No strenuous activities are allowed for two to three weeks.
Patients are given a list of postoperative instructions, which include requirements for hygiene, exercise, eating, and follow-up visits to the doctor. Patients should not blow their noses for the first week to avoid disruption of healing. It is extremely important to keep the surgical dressing dry. Dressings, splints, and stitches are removed in one to two weeks. Patients should avoid sunburn.
Patients should remember that it may take as long as a year for the nose to assume its final shape; the tip of the nose in particular may be mildly swollen for several months.


Any type of surgery carries a degree of risk. There is always the possibility of unexpected events, such as an infection or a reaction to the anesthesia. Some patients may have a so-called foreign body reaction to a nasal implant made from synthetic materials. In these cases the surgeon can replace the implant with a piece of cartilage from the patient's own body.
Some risks of rhinoplasty are social or psychological. The ASPS patient brochure about rhinoplasty mentions the possibility of criticism or rejection by friends or family if they feel threatened by the patient's new look. This type of reaction sometimes occurs with rhinoplasty if the friends or relatives consider the shape of the nose an important family or ethnic trait.
When the nose is reshaped or repaired from inside, the scars are not visible, but if the surgeon needs to make the incision on the outside of the nose, there will be some slight scarring. In addition, tiny blood vessels may burst, leaving small red spots on the skin. These spots are barely visible but may be permanent.
About 10% of patients require a second procedure; however, the corrections required are usually minor.



Chou, T. D., W. T. Lee, S. L. Chen, et al. "Split Calvarial Bone Graft for Chemical Burn-Associated Nasal Augmentation." Burns 30 (June 2004): 380-385.
Daniel, R. K., and J. W. Calvert. "Diced Cartilage Grafts in Rhinoplasty Surgery." Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 113 (June 2004): 2156-2171.
Honigman, R. J., K. A. Phillips, and D. J. Castle. "A Review of Psychosocial Outcomes for Patients Seeking Cosmetic Surgery." Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 113 (April 1, 2004): 1229-1237.
Raghavan, U., N. S. Jones, and T. Romo, 3rd. "Immediate Autogenous Cartilage Grafts in Rhinoplasty after Alloplastic Implant Rejection." Archives of Facial and Plastic Surgery 6 (May-June 2004): 192-196.


American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). 310 South Henry Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. (703) 299-9291. http://www.facemd.org.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). 444 East Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60005. (847) 228-9900. http://www.plasticsurgery.org.


American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Procedures: Rhinoplasty. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/public_education/procedures/Rhinoplasty.cfm.

Key terms

Cartilage — Firm supporting tissue that does not contain blood vessels.
Columella — The strip of skin running from the tip of the nose to the upper lip, which separates the nostrils.
Septum — The dividing wall in the nose.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


plastic surgery of the nose.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Reconstructive or cosmetic surgery of the nose to correct form or function.
[rhino- + G. plastos, formed]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


(rī′nō-plăs′tē, -nə-)
n. pl. rhinoplas·ties
Plastic surgery of the nose.

rhi′no·plas′tic adj.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Nose job, nose reconstruction Plastic surgery A procedure in which the size and/or contour of the nose is revised. Types–Esthetic–which constitutes the majority, and for which 25 000 are performed/year–US 70% in ♀; 11% < age 18. Reconstructive–for defects caused by trauma or surgery to the region, most often related to extensive locoregional malignancy
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Repair of a defect of the nose with tissue taken from elsewhere.
2. Plastic surgery to change the shape or size of the nose.
[rhino- + G. plastos, formed]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Any cosmetic operation to alter the shape of the nose.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


1. Repair of a defect of the nose with tissue taken from elsewhere.
2. Plastic surgery to change the shape or size of the nose.
[rhino- + G. plastos, formed]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
"Multiple Rhinoplasty procedures are not recommended as it can result in the nose being made weak and also a build-up of scar tissue can cause breathing restrictions in the nostrils."
A rhinoplasty can be done in combination with orthognathic surgical procedures to aid in correcting the undesirable effects of maxillary surgery.
Primary Rhinoplasty: A New Approach to the Logic and Techniques.
He underwent a primary open rhinoplasty procedure consisting of an unilateral lower lateral crural turnover flap.
Validation of the Rhinoplasty Outcomes Evaluation (ROE) questionnaire adapted to Brazilian Portuguese.
Engineered nasal cartilage by cell homing: a model for augmentative and reconstructive rhinoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg 2014; 133: 1344-53.
For every patient who was selected for rhinoplasty, a data sheet describing the nasal deformities, measurements, and nasal skin thickness (by digital pinch test) was completed by a senior otolaryngologist dividing the patients clinically into thin, intermediate and thick groups as well as a preoperative visual analog scale patients with major discrepancies in thickness between the 3 parts of the nose were not included.
Ninth rib cartilage graft (taken from the right side) was used in all patients and placed as an L strut graft through an open rhinoplasty approach.
[5] also reported narcissism as the most common personality trait in patients seeking cosmetic rhinoplasty (26.7%), which is close to our results.
Sethi, M.D., M.P.H., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective review of 173 patients who underwent rhinoplasty to examine opioid prescription data, including type of opioid, quantity, dosage, and refills within three weeks of surgery.