What are the risks associated with nose surgery?
When nose surgery is performed by a surgeon using current established methods, problems are very rare and usually minor. Like any other surgical procedure, nose surgery does have some risks. There is risk of infection and bleeding as well as risk due to complications due to the anaesthesia. About one in twenty procedures do require an additional procedure as the outcome did not realise the expectations set out by the surgeon and patient. This can happen regardless of the experience and qualifications of the surgeon.
Nose surgeries are performed to correct birth defects or the results of accidents, or to remove a characteristic that the patient prefers to be without. If the reason is purely cosmetic, it is important to have realistic expectations and to understand that although the surgery can improve appearance, it is not intended to alter your appearance drastically. Nose surgery should not be performed until the face is fully developed, which is from age 15 to 17 in girls and a bit later in boys. You should not get nose surgery unless you have realistic expectations from the surgery as well as clearly defined reasoning for wanting it. It is better to be in good general health when undergoing nose surgery.
Before the surgery, the surgeon will give you instructions regarding preparation, including information on fasting before the procedure and which prescriptions to stop taking. The surgeon will also advise you how long to stay away from alcohol, smoking and health supplements. Arranging for someone to drive you to the procedure, pick you up and stay with you during the first couple of days is essential.
Dr. Stefansson performes most of his procedures at Dea Medica, Glæsibær.
Nose surgery is usually performed under anaesthesia. The anaesthetic is administered by an anaesthesiologist who is present during the surgery until several hours after you have woken up. Anaesthesia has improved greatly in recent years, resulting in safer surgeries with shorter recovery times and lowered likelihood of nausea. If the procedure is very minor and requires only alteration of the cartilage at the tip of the nose, sometimes local anaesthetic is used.
During the surgery, the skin is removed from the bone and cartilage which is then manipulated into the desired shape. After the reshaping, the skin is put back into place and the wound closed. The major incisions are made within the nose so visible scarring is minimal. Sometimes the entire surgery is performed from within the nose. When the surgery is complete, a plastic or plaster splint is placed on the nose to help support the new shape while the wounds are healing. Internal tubes are placed in the nostrils for two to three days following surgery to stop bleeding and support the cartilage from within.
Nose surgery usually takes an hour and a half to two hours. When there are significant alterations to the structure of the nose or nasal passages, the surgery can take up to four hours.
During the first 24 hours following surgery, your face will feel swollen, your nose may hurt and you may have a headache. This pain can be managed with pain medication prescribed by the surgeon. The first day should be spent in bed with your head elevated. There will in all likelihood be swelling and bruising around the eyes which usually reaches its peak around three days after surgery. A cold compress can be used to alleviate swelling and discomfort. The swelling and bruising largely disappear in one to three weeks.
Most people recovering from nose surgery are up and about a day or two after the surgery, and most people can return to work one week after surgery. Full recovery is expected within a few weeks. The surgeon will give you recommendations you should adhere to. These include staying away from sports and physical activities, taking great care while washing the face and nose, and avoiding unnecessary contact with the nose.
It is not realistic to try to determine the success of the procedure until a week or two after the surgery, as the face is swollen and the shape is not yet visible. In one to two weeks, you can make a general assessment, but all swelling is unlikely to subside for a few more weeks. Full recovery from nose surgery is a long process and requires the patient to care well for her or himself.