Nose Surgery
( Rhinoplasty )

From Dr. Federico Macaya

Types of anesthesia
The surgery
After your surgery
Getting back to normal
Your new look
Complications

Rhinoplasty, or surgery to reshape the nose, is one of the most common of all plastic surgery procedures. Rhinoplasty 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 correct a birth defect or injury, or help relieve some breathing   problems.

Rhinoplasty can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations.

The best candidates for rhinoplasty are people who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you're physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.

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TYPES OF ANESTHESIA

Rhinoplasty can be performed under local or general anesthesia, depending on the extent of the procedure . With local anesthesia, you'll usually be lightly sedated, and your nose and the surrounding area will be numbed; you'll be awake during the surgery, but relaxed and insensitive to pain. With general anesthesia, you'll sleep through the operation.

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THE SURGERY

Rhinoplasty usually takes an hour or two, though complicated procedures may take longer. During surgery the skin of the nose is separated from its supporting framework of bone and cartilage, which is then sculpted to the desired shape. The nature of the sculpting will depend on your problem and your surgeon's preferred technique. Finally, the skin is redraped over the new framework.

When the surgery is complete, a splint will be applied to help your nose maintain its new shape. Nasal packs or soft plastic splints also may be placed in your nostrils to stabilize the septum, the dividing wall between the air passages.

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AFTER YOUR SURGERY                                          

After surgery--particularly during the first twenty-four hours--your face will feel puffy, your nose may ache, and you may have a dull headache. You can control any discomfort with the pain medication .

 Plan on staying in bed with your head elevated (except for going to the bathroom) for the first day. You'll notice that the swelling and bruising around your eyes will increase at first, reaching a peak after two or three days. Applying cold compresses will reduce this swelling and make you feel a bit better. In any case, you'll feel a lot better than you look. Most of the swelling and bruising should disappear within two weeks or so. (Some subtle swelling--unnoticeable to anyone but you and your surgeon--will remain for several months.) A little bleeding is common during the first few days following surgery, and you may continue to feel some stuffiness for several weeks. Do not  blow your nose for a week or so, while the tissues heal. If you have nasal packing, it will be removed after a few days and you'll feel much more comfortable. By the end of one or,occasionally, two weeks, all dressings, splints, and stitches should be removed.

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GETTING BACK TO NORMAL

Most rhinoplasty patients are up and about within two days, and able to return to school or sedentary work a week or so following surgery. It will be several weeks, however, before you're entirely up to speed.

Avoid strenuous activity (jogging, swimming, bending, sexual relations--any activity that increases your blood pressure) for two to three weeks.

Avoid hitting or rubbing your nose, or getting it sunburned, for eight weeks. Be gentle when washing your face and hair or using cosmetics. You can wear contact lenses as soon as you feel like it, but glasses are another story.

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YOUR NEW LOOK

In the days following surgery, when your face is bruised and swollen, it's easy to forget that you will be looking better. In fact, many patients feel depressed for a while after plastic surgery, it's quite normal and understandable. Rest assured that this stage will pass. Day by day, your nose will begin to look better and your spirits will improve. Within a week or two, you'll no longer look as if you've just had surgery. Still, healing is a slow and gradual process. Some subtle swelling may be present for months, especially in the tip. The final results of rhinoplasty may not be apparent for a year or more.

In the meantime, you might experience some unexpected reactions from family and friends. They may say they don't see a major difference in your nose. Or they may act resentful, especially if you've changed something they view as a family or ethnic trait. If that happens, try to keep in mind why you decided to have this surgery in the first place. If you've met your goals, then your surgery is a success.

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COMPLICATIONS

All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk

Complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility of complications, including infection, nosebleed, or a reaction to the anesthesia.

When rhinoplasty is performed from inside the nose, there is no visible scarring at all; when an "open" technique is used, or when the procedure calls for the narrowing of flared nostrils, the small scars on the base of the nose are usually not visible. In about one case out of ten, a second procedure may be required--for example, to correct a minor deformity. Such cases are unpredictable and happen even to patients of the most skilled surgeons. The corrective surgery is usually minor.

There are several factors that can influence the procedure and the results. These factors include the structure of your nasal bones and cartilage, the shape of your face, the thickness of your skin, your age, and your expectations.

Please stay 10 days after surgery in Costa Rica. I recommend the Las Cumbres Inn where you will receive personal attention, required medication and transportation to and from surgery. I visit my patients at Las Cumbres frequently following surgery to check on your recovery.

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