Nose Surgery: What To Expect

Rhinoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure lasting between two to three hours, though more complicated cases can take longer and/or require a short hospital stay. Depending on the surgical plan you and your doctor have developed, you’ll be given local or general anesthesia.

  • Local anesthesia means you’ll be lightly sedated and your nose and the surrounding area will be numbed. You’re awake during the surgery, but relaxed and feeling no pain.
  • General anesthesia means you’ll be asleep during the operation.

How the Procedure is Performed

Some surgeons do a rhinoplasty from within the nose, making an incision inside the nostrils. Others use an “open” procedure, making an incision across the vertical strip of tissue that separates the nostrils (called the columella).

During surgery, the skin of the nose is separated from the bone and cartilage, which are then surgically changed to the desired shape. After this “sculpting” procedure, the skin is draped over the “new” nose.

A small splint will be put on your nose to help it retain its new shape and protect it as it heals. You may also be given nasal packs or soft plastic splints in your nostrils to help stabilize the wall separating the nostrils (called the septum).


All surgery includes some risk and uncertainty. Serious complications or side effects of this surgery are rare, but they include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Bad reactions to the anesthesia

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