What's it like: To get a nose job

Through rhinoplasty, a surgeon can change the shape or size of your nose, but it is not without risk or cost.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: February 10, 2013

Why get a nose job?

Rhinoplasty is the medical term for nose surgery, or a “nose job.” There are two main reasons you might get a nose job. For one, you might not like your nose. Your nose helps define your facial image and is one of the first things a person will notice about you. Through rhinoplasty, a surgeon can change the shape or size of your nose, but it is not without risk or cost.

You could also need rhinoplasty for medical reasons, such as injury caused from blunt-force trauma. For example, if you have suffered a sports injury, such as a softball to the face, you might need nose surgery to reconstruct your airways.

What happens when you get a nose job?

Before your surgery, you'll meet with your surgeon, and you will discuss how you would like your nose to look. Your surgeon might study photos of your nose beforehand and might also have a computer program that can morph your photos to give you an idea of what your nose might look like.

To begin the surgery, an anesthesiologist will put you under general anesthesia. The medical team might also inject some numbing medication, such as epinephrine.

There are two main ways for a plastic surgeon to perform a nose job — open or closed. During a closed surgery, there are no external cuts. Instead, your surgeon will make internal cuts. This procedure takes practice, and it's important to find out the level of experience your surgeon has.

During an open surgery, your surgeon will likely make one external cut along your columella, the tissue that links the nasal tip to the nasal base. Once your surgeon makes that incision, he or she will lift the soft tissue that covers your nose. Next, your surgeon will begin to shape and remove cartilage or bone, depending on what you've discussed.

The medical team might use a cartilage graft, using cartilage from your septum, to define the tip of your nose, if that's the focus. Your surgeon might also put sutures in your nose to help your nose attain a certain shape.

If you've had considerable damage and are seeking reconstructive surgery, your surgeon might use cartilage from your ribs or ears to provide better support to your nose. For reconstructive surgery, you'll have fine intricate sutures throughout your nose. In severe cases, your surgeon might need to use screws.

Does it hurt?

After the surgery, your nose and face will likely hurt. The pain and bruising you will have after the surgery will depend on how extensive the surgery is. Specifically, it depends on how much bone work the surgeon does. If your surgeon breaks your nasal bones to change your nose's shape, your nose will hurt more than if the bones weren't broken.


by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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