Most people who are considering rhinoplasty do so because they are unhappy with the shape or size of their nose. However, there are plenty of people who also suffer from some form of breathing problem, which they would like addressed through surgery. Sometimes the two issues are related, as a broken nose can impact upon the internal nasal structures for example, but this is not always the case.
We use the term ‘functional rhinoplasty’ to refer to nasal surgery which is specifically aimed at improving nasal breathing, without altering the shape of size of the nose. Cosmetic rhinoplasty is surgery which alters the shape or size of the nose. In general, most rhinoplasty surgery tends to be a combination of the two.
Breathing problems usually involve obstructions of the airway, such as nasal congestion, which can cause mouth breathing, particularly at nighttime, along with a dry mouth. Patients often report a reduced sense of smell, and other side effects can include nosebleeds, sinus headaches, sinus infections and disturbed sleep.
One cause of nasal obstruction is the nasal polyp. Polyps are non-cancerous growths that can obstruct the nasal passages. Nasal polyps can be easily removed through surgery, although there is a tendency for them to recur. Doctors tend to pursue allergy treatments to prevent the risk of recurrence following surgery.
For treating a deviated septum, the surgeon performs a nasal septoplasty. The wall which divides the nasal passages becomes twisted or bent in a deviated septum, which causes one of both of the nasal passages to become blocked. During septoplasty, the surgeon opens up these blocked airways and straightens the supporting structures. Performed correctly, the operation is usually completed within around half an hour and patients can expect a speedy and straightforward recovery.
Turbinate hypertrophy can be the result of allergies. The turbinates are areas of bone covered in mucous membranes, which extend down the length of the nasal cavity. The uppermost turbinate rarely causes problems, but the middle and inferior turbinates located further down the nasal cavity can become enlarged and can interfere with nasal breathing. It is undesirable to remove the turbinates completely, as they perform a much-needed function in filtering inhaled air, helping to warm and moisten it. A skilled surgeon removes inflamed and overgrown tissue, to allow correct nasal breathing to be restored. Following surgery, the patient can expect to make a good recovery, but there is an increased risk of bleeding in the weeks following surgery, while the membranes heal.
Nasal valve collapse occurs in noses which have been damaged by surgery, disease, ageing or injury. As the narrowest part of the airway, the nasal valve contains membranes that expand and contract to regulate airflow and filter air that passes through. The surgeon decides on the most appropriate form of surgery to treat the problem, to ensure a satisfactory outcome that is functionally and aesthetically pleasing for the patient.