Rhinoplasty | Nose Surgery | MedStar Health

Nose shaping surgery overview

A doctor measures a patient's facial features during an office visit.

The nose has a prominent spot on the face, which can make you uncomfortable if you are unsatisfied with your nose’s size or shape. This may be due to an issue you’ve had since birth or an injury or surgery later in life. Fortunately, nose shaping surgery (also known as a rhinoplasty or nose job) can reduce or increase the size of your nose, change the shape of the tip or the bridge, narrow the span of the nostrils, or change the angle between your nose and your upper lip. It may also help relieve breathing problems caused by a deviated septum.

MedStar Health offers the following nose surgeries:

  • Cosmetic nose surgery is performed when patients have no underlying functional airway problems.
  • Revision nose surgery is performed after one or more previous nose shaping surgeries have been performed. These usually take more time and are more difficult than a typical cosmetic nose surgery.
  • Functional nose surgery is for patients who have functional problems breathing through their nose. This commonly occurs after trauma, previous facial surgery, developmental abnormalities, or other causes. The goal of this operation is to restore or improve proper nasal function. In cases of trauma, this procedure also aims to restore the pre-injury appearance of the nose.

Nose shaping surgery can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it will not necessarily change your looks to match your ideal or cause other people to treat you differently. You should seek this surgery only if you are looking for improvement, and not perfection, in the way you look.

Planning and recovery

In your initial consultation, your surgeon will ask about your aesthetic goals, evaluate the structure of your nose, and face and discuss your options. Traditional and three-dimensional images will be obtained and used to help clearly identify your surgical goals. You will also learn about the surgical techniques and anesthesia that will be used. Our surgeons find that patient education results in a smooth postoperative process in the majority of patients. Don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.

Be sure to tell your surgeon if you have had any previous nose surgery or an injury to your nose, even if it was many years ago. If possible, you should bring any previous operative notes and before and after photos of earlier surgeries.

Nose shaping surgery is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes about one to two hours, though complicated procedures may take longer. During surgery, small incisions are made on either inside the nose or across the narrow strip of tissue that separates the nostrils. The soft tissues of the nose are then raised, allowing access to sculpt the desired shape of the nose. During surgery, your nose’s septum can also be straightened and the projections inside the nose can be reduced to improve breathing. Once the structure of your nose is complete, skin is re-draped and your incisions are closed.

Recovery after surgery

Surgical tape or a splint will be applied to help your nose maintain its new shape. Rarely, nasal packs or soft plastic splints may be placed in your nostrils to stabilize the septum (the dividing wall between the air passages). Most patients are able to resume light activities within a few days of surgery, but you should allow several weeks before resuming full physical activity.

Initial swelling should subside within a few weeks, but it may take up to a year for your nose’s final shape to take form. Throughout the first year after surgery, minor swelling may come and go as your nose heals.

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for nose shaping surgery?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy

    • Your expectations are realistic

    • You understand the risks that come with surgery

    • Your facial growth is complete

    • You’re looking to improve the appearance and/or function of your nose

  • What are the risks of nose shaping surgery?

    As with any surgery, rhinoplasties do pose some risks. These risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications

    • Difficulty breathing

    • Infection

    • Nasal septal perforation (a hole in the wall between the nostrils)

    • Numbness

    • Pain

    • Poor healing

    • Skin discoloration

    • Swelling

    • Unfavorable scarring

    • Unsatisfactory appearance

  • How much does nose shaping surgery cost?

    The costs for nose shaping surgery vary based on your specific needs. Insurance usually does not cover cosmetic procedures. If nose surgery is needed to improve your ability to function, it could be partially covered. Check your policy or call your carrier to confirm your coverage.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available and help with any payment questions you may have.

Our locations

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MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Health: Orthopedics at McLean

1420 Beverly Road
Ste. 210
McLean, VA 22102