Summary: As one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures on the planet, the nose job has a well-earned reputation for what it can do for patients. But what can a nose job change, when it comes down to it? How much can a nose job alter when it comes to the face? The answer has to do with what your desired final outcome is—in other words, to a large degree, it’s all up to you. This article examines some specific ways rhinoplasty can alter the appearance of the nose.
What is a Nose Job?
Our faces and our identities are inextricably linked. So when there’s something about your face that doesn’t align with your identity, it can stick out like a sore thumb. Or, in our case, it can stick out like a sore nose. But you do have options if you happen to not like the way your nose looks.
Patients who wish to change the appearance of the nose usually opt for a procedure medically known as “rhinoplasty.” More conversationally referred to as a “nose job,” this plastic surgery procedure is one that is capable of changing the shape and appearance of the nose using a variety of surgical (and sometimes non surgical) techniques.
Rhinoplasty Addresses Multiple Issues
But to say that the nose can be changed doesn’t really describe what rhinoplasty is capable of. It’s better, instead, to ask, what can a nose job change and how substantial can those changes be? The truth is that rhinoplasty is capable of changing a great deal about the appearance and function of the nose. And that’s important because no two nose job patients are alike.
In fact, rhinoplasty is used to address a wide variety of patient concerns. Sometimes a nose job is used to add volume, other times a surgeon will need to remove volume. Every patient has his or her unique desired results and unique issues to address. That makes rhinoplasty a popular and versatile plastic surgery procedure, in part because the nose itself is such an important aspect of the face.
In other words, rhinoplasty can change quite a bit about your nose.
What Areas of the Nose Can Be Addressed with Rhinoplasty?
Because the nose is quite complex, so too is rhinoplasty. In other words, the nose job isn’t a one trick pony. Much will depend on what a patient actually wants and requires from the procedure. As such, there are several areas of the nose that can be successfully addressed.
Changing the Bridge of the Nose
In some cases, patients are concerned about the appearance of what is called the nasal ridge. Sometimes known colloquially as the “bridge of the nose,” this is the area of tissue which runs from the eyes to the nasal tip.
- When patients complain of a wide nasal bridge there may be several reasons. In some cases this is caused by a wide “nasal bone” (two small bones that connect the cartilage in the septum and the face). When the nasal bone is enlarged, surgeons can actually remove some of that bone to change the shape of the nose and diminish the nasal bridge. In other cases, the nasal bone is not the source of the problem, which then likely resides in the cartilage of the nose or in the fat and tissue around the nose. In some of those cases, material may actually be added to the nose in order to make the nasal bridge more pointed—creating the illusion that the bridge looks narrower. In other cases, excess cartilage may be excised to gain the desired effect.
- When patients complain of a nose that is too narrow surgeons might correct this by adding material to the nose. This can be done several ways. In some cases an implant will be added to the nose. These implants can be made of silicone or even sometimes printed by a special 3D printer to perfectly suit the patient’s nose. For temporarily increasing the volume, some surgeons will use a non surgical nose job (developed by Dr. Alexander Rivkin) in which they inject dermal fillers into the bridge of the nose.
- Eliminating a bump or lump in the bridge, or straightening the bridge of the nose is also something that a rhinoplasty procedure can accomplish. These lumps or bumps in the bridge of your nose can make your nasal zone look ungainly or imperfect. This is usually addressed using an open rhinoplasty procedure and molding the cartilage into a straighter, narrower shape. In some cases, the entire nasal bridge can be reoriented so that the nose, effectively, appears to be at a different angle. This is a widely sought out sector of rhinoplasty—and a common request from patients.
Changing the bridge of the nose with rhinoplasty usually requires what is known as an open rhinoplasty. During an open rhinoplasty, a small incision is made between the nostrils (at the columella), and the tissue covering the nose is then pulled up and out of the way—allowing surgeons to gain the access required.
The procedure is capable of producing spectacular results. Patients can get a wider ridge or a narrower ridge, allowing their noses to feel “in tune” with the rest of their faces. A nose job can change this significant aspect of the bridge.
Changing the Tip of the Nose
On the other end of the spectrum are patients who want to change the size or orientation of the tips of their nose. The nasal tip is composed primarily of cartilage, but it’s also where two large bodies of cartilage come together. This can cause the tip to be seen as “out of alignment” with the rest of your face. A nose job can change the tip of your nose both in terms of alignment and in terms of size.
- Changing a drooping tip: A nasal tip will “droop” for a number of reasons. In some cases to correct the issue, surgeons will cut the depressor septi nasi muscle—the muscle that connects your upper lip to your nose. This means when you smile, your nose won’t droop nearly as much. However, this will not change the overall mass of the tip. So surgeons will then sometimes also perform an open rhinoplasty in order to deconstruct and alter the cartilage in the tip.
- Changing the orientation of the tip: When your tip doesn’t just droop but has other issues, it might be possible to change the orientation of that tip. The procedure for changing the orientation of the tip is usually quite similar to that of correcting a drooping tip. In some uncommon instances, the root of the orientation problem might be further up the nose, resulting in the necessity for “resetting” those nasal bones (or the cartilage). However, in most cases surgeons are able to change the orientation of the tip by using an open rhinoplasty technique to get to the cartilage.
Changing the tip of the nose can have a profound impact on the appearance of the nose, bringing it into alignment with the rest of the face. In other words, people will stop noticing your nose and start recognizing your face.
Changing the Flare of the Nostrils
If you watch too many movies, you might have the sense that plastic surgery—and especially rhinoplasty—has complete transformational potential. You might think plastic surgeons can make you look like anything! You might think a nose job can change anything. That’s not necessarily true; there are some limitations when it comes to what a nose job can change, and that’s especially true when it comes to your nostrils.
There are many rhinoplasty patients who would like to change the appearance of their nostrils. These patients may feel as though their current nostrils are simply too large or flare too widely. And a nose job can, in fact, mitigate flared nostrils to an extent. In other words, can a rhinoplasty alter the nostrils? Yes!
In general, rhinoplasty is more effective at making nostrils smaller than it is at increasing the size of one’s nostrils. However, every patient is different and if you want the size of your nostrils to change, you should consult with a highly qualified surgeon in order to collectively ascertain what is possible. What can a nose job change about the nostrils? Well, it depends on your nostrils.
Changing the Nose Due to Injury
The nose is quite susceptible to injury, primarily because it’s composed of cartilage instead of bone. You might still “break” your nose, but this means something different than, for example, breaking your femur. When you break your nose, you’re actually causing damage to the cartilage in the nose, and that can permanently alter your appearance.
It’s not uncommon, then, for patients who have had trauma to the nose to then investigate the possibility of using a rhinoplasty procedure to repair the aesthetic damage. In fact, rhinoplasty is a common reconstructive procedure in this way, and there is often collaboration between your primary physician and your plastic surgeon.
However, patients who are getting a nose job to repair damage should keep the following things in mind:
- Timing can be important. You need to wait for swelling and bruising to recede. This can take anywhere between four and six weeks, depending on the degree of the original fracture.
- It may be necessary to reset (or “re-break”) your nose in order to achieve your desired final results
- In some cases, your medical insurance may cover your rhinoplasty procedure if you are repairing damage from the break
- Repairing damage from a trauma will also take into account the function of the nose—returning that function to a pre-break level, if possible.
- Recovery from rhinoplasty can take some time, so you may not see your final results for some months
Rhinoplasty can alter quite a bit about your broken nose. So if you’ve got a broken nose and you’re wondering if a rhinoplasty can change it back to the way it was, the short answer is yes, mostly. Again, much will depend on the way your body heals, so the only sure answers you’re going to get will be from your plastic surgeon.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Your Nose
Your nose is an incredibly important part of your face. From an aesthetic point of view, your nose is responsible for bringing balance and harmony to the face. In a way, it’s the glue that holds all of your beauty together. So it’s understandable when a patient might feel particularly sensitive about this area.
Thankfully, if there’s something bugging you about your nose, it’s likely that a plastic surgeon will be able to address it. Whether you’ve got a bump in your bridge, a droop in your tip, or a flare in your nostrils, surgeons employ techniques that are designed to bring your nose back into harmony.
And that’s important. Patients who go in for a rhinoplasty usually aren’t looking to make the nose the star feature of their face. Rather, they’re looking to take some attention away from the nose. They others to see their face entirely—and not be drawn unceremoniously to their noses.
So if you’re thinking about rhinoplasty, you should know that it’s quite capable of changing quite a bit about your nose. Ultimately, how much you want changed is completely up to you. The most important answer to that question we started with—what can a nose job change—is simply this: how you feel about yourself.
And at the end of the day, that’s the most important change.
Featured image courtesy Dr. Howard Stupak. View this case in more detail.