Let's face it: surgery is scary! It's not a normal thing! We go into a room, you go to sleep, I use sharp things on you, then you wake up in a room of strangers, under the influence of drugs! There is also a lot of misinformation about different procedures on the internet.
Today, I want to address common myths about one of my favorite procedures, rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty, or surgical reshaping of the nose, can be done to improve the appearance of your nose, improve your breathing, or to fix an old problem. It is one of the most common surgeries that I perform, and I've done hundreds over the course of my career. Here are my responses to common myths surrounding rhinoplasty.
- Myth #1: You'll be in a tremendous amount of pain.
- This one is easy to understand. The nose is a sensitive place. Your ability to feel your nose comes from at least five major nerves! And surgery hurts, right? Wrong!
- I stopped giving out narcotic pain medication for rhinoplasties years ago. My patients just didn't need them and the risk of developing a habit is real.
- I now prescribe antiinflammatory medicines that are kind of like ibuprofen (Advil®). You can also add acetaminophen (Tylenol®) if you want. I find that patients either have no pain at all, or only need to take something for a few days.
- Myth #2: You won't be able to breathe through your nose. This myth is based on a couple of things that used to be common in nasal surgery.
- Decades ago, we used to layer strips of gauze in your nasal cavities to soak up blood and help support the nose. I was made to do this once when I was a resident. It was really uncomfortable for the patient and it was terrible to have to pull all that out. So I've never done it since.
- More commonly, surgeons will put these big plastic tubes in your nose. The thought is that it would allow you to breathe while still supporting the inside of the nose. Well, they hurt a lot and the tubes always get clogged. And someone did a study a few years ago showing that patients with these tubes had more pain than those that didn't, AND the surgical outcomes are the same with and without the tubes. So I don't use them.
- Rarely, I will put very thin sheets of plastic on either side of your septum to help it heal. It's a game time decision based on how the surgery is going. While they do have to come out, you wouldn't know they're there if I didn't tell you.
- While you will get somewhat stuffy, your breathing should be the same, if not better, by about day 4 or 5 after surgery.
- Myth #3: I'll be bruised for weeks.
- While I can't guarantee no bruising, most of the time my patients don't have any. Some of the reason why is technical secrets, but a lot of the reason is, I don't put any packing up in your nose that prevents blood from draining properly from where we did surgery.
- Surgery by necessity involves cutting tissue. Cut tissue bleeds. We have ways of stopping bleeding, but inevitably some of that blood accumulates in your tissues. If you don't impede it's ability to get out, you won't get a bruise.
This patient is a week out from her rhinoplasty- you'd never know it!
- Myth #4: It won't look like my nose anymore.
- We all know where this myth comes from: Celebrities in the 80's and 90's who ended up with freakishly deformed noses.
- The techniques used in rhinoplasties from the 1940's through the 1990's (and in some cases, are still around) made everybody have the same nose. Cartilage was cut, moved, and resewn in a cookie-cutter fashion. The techniques were the same for everybody so everybody ended up with the same nose.
- Modern techniques, particulary in my hands, emphasize a "less is more" philosophy. I want your nose to compliment your other facial features and your overall stature. I don't want any of my rhinoplasty patients to actually LOOK like they've had a rhinoplasty. Natural results are the way to go.
Today I've addressed four common myths about rhinoplasty. I've made some pretty big claims here- you won't hurt, you will be able to breathe, and you'll be back to normal pretty quickly. I've had a sense of this for years, but I recently did a rhinoplasty on a dear friend of mine who lives two doors down from me, so I was able to watch his healing closely. He took no pain medications. His snoring improved rapidly. And other than the cast I made him wear for a week, he didn't look like he had had anything done.
If you're considering having a rhinoplasty, I invite you to come see me in my office. I'll show you dozens of patients a week out from rhinoplasty and you can see for yourself just how easy it can be.