Functional Rhinoplasty

In cases for pure cosmetic nose surgery (rhinoplasty), the patient goals will be for appearance. Most often this is private pay and is not covered by insurance. Another group of patients seeking correction of the nose from injury, deformity, and dysfunction may be eligible for insurance coverage under the umbrella of Septorhinoplasty, Septoplasty, Repair of nasal fracture, and Repair of nasal valve obstruction.

Even though this group of patients seek improvement in the nasal function (nasal airway blockage/valve collapse/internal deformities of the nasal septum) attention is carefully given to the cosmetic appearance of the outside of the nose (nasal hump/nasal fractures /crooked nose) so that a uniform functional and cosmetic correction (septorhinoplasty) is accomplished to restore the patient’s nose to facial harmony and proper airflow internally.

Some cases only require correction of a “deviated nasal septum” with or without correction of nasal valve dysfunction. (Nasal septal reconstruction with or without repair of Vestibular Stenosis)

Understanding the Surgery

Functional Rhinoplasty is similar to Cosmetic Rhinoplasty in length of surgery and recovery. The surgery is usually a day surgery, lasting 2-4 hours, with minimal incisions, usually with no packing, and with soft splints inside the nose and a splint on the outside removed 5-7 days after surgery. Most often stitches are bio-degradable.

What to Expect After Surgery

Pain is minimal to moderate, and some bruising around the eyes can be expected. Patients are advised to use cool pads for two days then warm, not hot, compresses around the eyes.  After the splint is removed the patient can shower. It is possible to return to work or school in one to two weeks. 

It is noteworthy that patients will see immediately that the nose is straighter and gradually the breathing is better. It is important that the patients follow the instructions from their facial plastic surgeon regarding care of the inside of the nose, avoiding sunburn and injury.

For functional nasal surgery the improvement is expected to follow this timeline:
  • 40% healing in six weeks/ 70% healing in six months, etc.
  • It is noteworthy that the patient’s nasal airway function should continue to improve over a period of time thereafter.
  • In the case of “rhinoplasty for function” the goal of your facial plastic surgeon is committed to excellence in restoration of appearance as well as improving nasal airway function.

Medical content written by the AAFPRS Multimedia Committee. Medical content reviewed/approved by Dr. Samuel M. Lam and Dr. Albert J. Fox