The nose occupies the centre of the face and its most important function is to filter, warm and moisturise the air we breathe. The nose consists of bones and cartilages supported by a midline nasal septum that separates the nose into the right and left nostrils. The shape of the nose depends on all these structures and the skin overlying it. The nose also has great importance in the aesthetics of the face and deformities, be they ones we are born with or acquire through trauma, can have a serious psychological and functional effect on patients.

Surgery can change the shape of the nose and improve the function of the nose. The operation is called a Rhinoplasty. When rhinoplasty is combined with an operation on the septum, it is called a Septorhinoplasty.

What results can I expect?

Rhinoplasty is by far the most complicated of the facial plastic surgical operations. The thickness and texture of your skin, the strength, shape, and symmetry of the nasal bones and cartilages, healing power of your body following surgery, and, of course, the skill of the surgeon, all have an impact on the outcome.

Surgical procedure

A full assessment of your nose and facial features is carried out with the aid of photographs during the consultation. A computer programme is often used to assist this process and an operative plan is outlined. The surgery is usually performed whilst you are asleep. Cuts are made inside and occasionally outside the nose and the skin is lifted off the bone and cartilage underneath. A hairline fracture may be made in the nasal bones to allow the change in the shape of the nose. Small pieces of bone and cartilage may be removed from or even added to the nose to smooth out any bumps or dips. At the end of the procedure all incisions are stitched in place. In some cases, extra cartilage is required to obtain the desired shape of the nose. This cartilage is taken from your ear or ribs. The surgeon will discuss this with you when planning the operation. A small dressing is inserted inside the nose, which is removed the next day and a temporary splint on the outside of the nose is used for 10 days.

After care

After the operation you will have some discomfort but any pain tends to be minimal and controlled with simple pain killers. You may have some bruising and swelling around your nose and eyes for 1-2 weeks. Your nose will feel blocked and crusty in the first two weeks after surgery. We advise you to only blow your nose very gently in the first week following surgery and sneeze with your mouth open to protect your nose and minimise the chances of bleeding. You may get some blood stained watery discharge from your nose for the first 2 weeks or so and this is normal. We will give you some drops or a spray to help this. It may take up to 3 months for your nose to settle down and for your breathing to be clear again. Try to stay away from dusty and smoky places for that time. The stitches inside your nose will dissolve and will fall out by themselves.

The skin of the nose is very sensitive to the sun following surgery and it is important that you wear sunscreen (factor 30 or more) and a hat for at least 6 months. The nose may feel a little stiff and numb for up to 3 months, particularly around the tip.

Most people need 1-2 weeks off work, especially if the work involves heavy lifting or strenuous activity. You should not play any sports where there is a risk of your nose being knocked, for at least 6 weeks.

Possible complications

Occasionally, your nose can bleed after the operation and we may have to put packs back into your nose if bleeding is excessive.

Infection inside the nose is rare but if this occurs it can be serious. The nose gets more and more blocked and sore and you may feel unwell. If this happens, please contact us immediately.

Rarely the operation may leave a hole in the septum inside the nose and very rarely you may experience some numbness of your teeth, which often settles with time. Loss of sense of smell may also occur but again is rare.

About 5-10% of patients need further operations in the future to further adjust the shape of the nose.

Click to download information booklet: Rhinoplasty



The North Hampshire ENT Partnership is a team of consultants specialising in a wide spectrum of diseases and disorders that affect the Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) including snoring and sleep disorders, cosmetic and skin surgery.


Our surgeons provide specialist care by drawing from the 50 plus years of combined NHS experience and the many areas of individual specialist expertise available within the partnership.


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