Doctor examining patient nose after rhinoplasty surgery

Two Types of Rhinoplasty Explained — Cosmetic vs. Functional

Rhinoplasty, or nose surgery, is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed by Dr. Apostolakis. Rhinoplasty can be performed for cosmetic reasons, such as to change the shape of the nose, or for functional reasons, such as to improve breathing. Understanding the different types of rhinoplasty and what they can treat can help you decide if this procedure is right for you.

Rhinoplasty Surgery Explained

Rhinoplasties can either be open or closed surgeries. An open rhinoplasty involves an incision across the strip of skin between the nostrils, while a closed rhinoplasty features incisions hidden within the nostrils. The approach that is best for you depends on the goals of your surgery and the method that would provide the best results.

Rhinoplasty surgery can be performed under local anesthesia, but most patients prefer IV sedation. Under IV sedation, you’re asleep for the entirety of the surgery, seeing, hearing, and feeling nothing. Surgery time varies depending on the surgical approach and patient needs but is often one and a half to three hours.

Should you be a particularly motivated patient, Dr. Apostolakis, unlike many surgeons, is skilled at doing rhinoplasty under local anesthesia. People who have had issues with anesthesia in the past, those with other medical issues which complicate using anesthesia, people who simply don’t want to incur the inconvenience of anesthesia, and those who would rather avoid the risks, albeit quite small, may choose local. Patients need to understand that there is an initial discomfort of the numbing injections and that following that, despite it not hurting, the procedure may produce anxiety. There will be some drainage into the throat and the numbness may give the illusion that you aren’t breathing because you don’t feel the air movement. Dr. Apostolakis has himself been on the receiving end of functional nasal surgery done under local anesthesia and is uniquely qualified to describe the process to the patient having been both patient and surgeon.

Recovery from rhinoplasty, contrary to popular belief, is minimally painful. Patients can breathe through the nose right after surgery, as Dr. Apostolakis does not pack the nose with gauze. Dr. Apostolakis puts in the effort to sew everything back together inside the nose rather than stuffing the nose with gauze to hold things in place. The nose will need to be splinted and taped on the outside for about a week.

Depending on the goal of surgery, after a rhinoplasty procedure, patients should enjoy the new appearance of their nose and/or improved functionality and breathing.

There Are Two Distinct Types of Rhinoplasty Surgeries

Cosmetic Rhinoplasty

Cosmetic rhinoplasty targets the look of the nose. Patients regularly opt for cosmetic rhinoplasties, as they can adjust the following features:

  • Humps or bumps along the bridge of the nose
  • Crooked nasal bridges
  • Nostrils that are either too wide
  • Bulbous, pointy, or flat nasal tips
  • Unbalanced nose profiles
  • Extensive projection of the nose
  • Nasal disproportion with the size and shape of the face and other facial features

Rhinoplasty can either pinpoint one or two specific issues with the appearance of the nose or change the shape and size of a nose altogether. Cosmetic rhinoplasties only focus on the look of the nose to make the nose more visually appealing.

Functional Rhinoplasty

Functional rhinoplasty can help patients breathe better. Breathing issues can include:

  • The inability to breathe out of one or both nostrils
  • Headaches
  • Sinus infections
  • Trouble sleeping

A functional rhinoplasty tackles the exact cause of the nasal breathing issues, permanently correcting the problem and ridding patients of accompanying symptoms.

Most of the troubles with nasal breathing stem from structural issues within the nose. Patients can either be born with nasal issues or suffer nasal problems later in life through trauma, injury, or, most commonly, disordered growth of the internal nasal structures through childhood.

One of the biggest problems that cause patients issues with nasal breathing is a deviated septum. The septum is the partition that divides the nasal cavity and separates the right and left nasal cavities. When the septum is crooked or deviated, it can cause an inability to breathe properly from one or both sides of the nose. Less commonly it can cause headaches and sinus infections.

Breathing issues may also be a result of enlarged turbinates in the nose. These turbinates can be reduced in size during a rhinoplasty, enlarging the space for airflow. Whether performing turbinate reduction is appropriate is determined during consultation based on both exam and patient symptoms.

In the case of a deviated septum, a septoplasty could correct the septum, allowing for smooth unobstructed airflow. After a septoplasty, patients are typically able to breathe much better, and other unfortunate symptoms, like headaches and mouth breathing, can be a thing of the past.

Because structural issues within the nose can cause health issues and interference with daily life, getting a functional rhinoplasty can significantly help improve quality of life.

Can You Combine Cosmetic and Functional Rhinoplasty Procedures?

Yes, cosmetic and functional rhinoplasties can be combined in one procedure to give you the results you desire. Dr. Apostolakis, as part of all cosmetic rhinoplasties, will correct nasal septal problems. During your consultation, you can discuss your aesthetic concerns while also pointing out any problems you’re having with breathing and your health that could be caused by the structure of your nose.

Dr. Apostolakis knows what to look for to determine whether your issues are caused by the internal workings of your nose. If so, he can decide what needs to be done surgically to correct the issue.

Your surgical plan can detail the method and approach Dr. Apostolakis will take to give you a beautiful, symmetrical nose that works as it should.

Is the Recovery Process the Same for Both Cosmetic and Functional Rhinoplasty?

Yes, generally, recovery and healing are the same whether you get a cosmetic procedure or a functional nose job.

Recovery is usually much less uncomfortable than patients may believe. Post-surgery, your nose has a splint to help maintain the shape. You’d be able to breathe right after surgery as your nose is not packed, allowing you to experience better breathing right away if you underwent a functional rhinoplasty.

Whether Your Needs Are Cosmetic or Functional, a Rhinoplasty Can Help Give You the Nose You Want and Need

The results of rhinoplasty surgeries can be exceptional, giving you a nose you’ll love that functions properly. Your future self will thank you. Give the office of Dr. Apostolakis a call today to schedule your consultation.

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