In some cases, your surgeon may combine a minimally invasive procedure with an open surgery. In addition, your surgeon may decide after beginning a minimally invasive procedure that you require an open surgery to safely and most effectively complete your surgery.

Rhinoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure. Your surgeon will determine which type of rhinoplasty is best for you and if you need to stay in the hospital based on certain factors. These include your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference. Learn about the different rhinoplasty procedures and ask why your doctor will use a particular type of procedure for you.

Types of anesthesia that may be used

Your surgeon will perform a rhinoplasty using either regional anesthesia or general anesthesia:

  • General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a deep sleep. You are unaware of the procedure and will not feel any pain.
  • Regional anesthesiais also known as a nerve block. Your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will inject anesthetic in the skin and tissues around the nose. You may also receive a sedative through your IV to keep you relaxed and comfortable. You may fall asleep and may not remember the procedure.

What to expect the day of your rhinoplasty

The day of your surgery, you can expect to:

  • Talk with a preoperative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure that you understand and sign the surgical consent.
  • Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member if possible. The surgical team will give you blankets for modesty and warmth.
  • Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will receive.
  • A surgical team member will start an IV.
  • The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia.
  • A tube will be placed in your windpipe to protect and control your breathing during general anesthesia. You will not feel or remember this or the surgical procedure as they happen.
  • The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout surgery and recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.

What are the risks and potential complications of rhinoplasty?

As with all surgeries, rhinoplasty involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or throughout your recovery.

General risks of surgery

The general risks of surgical procedures include:

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
  • Bleeding, which can lead to shock
  • Blood clot, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of rhinoplasty

The vast majority of rhinoplasty procedures are successful. However, complications of rhinoplasty can occur and become serious. Potential complications include:

  • Burst blood vessels on the surface of the skin of the nose, which are permanent
  • Emerging sutures that need to be manually removed (instead of dissolving on their own)
  • Hole in the septum (also called a nasal septal perforation)
  • Irregularities in skin contour or coloring
  • Nose asymmetry
  • Nose numbness
  • Scarring

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and:

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
  • Informing your doctor if you are nursing or there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies