The main purpose of rhinoplasty is to fix cosmetic issues in the nose. However, the surgery can also fix functional problems that affect your breathing. A nasal surgery that improves breathing is known as a functional rhinoplasty. This type of procedure is similar to a traditional rhinoplasty, but the surgeon removes or reshapes the bone and tissue to improve the nose’s functioning rather than its appearance. Functional rhinoplasty can also be combined with the traditional procedure to correct cosmetic problems and improve your breathing.
If you constantly struggle to breathe through your nose, it may be a sign that your nasal passages are obstructed. There are several causes of nasal obstruction, but most can be fixed with rhinoplasty.
Symptoms of Nasal Obstruction
Constant nasal congestion and difficulty breathing are the two most common symptoms of nasal obstruction. Everyone experiences nasal congestion sometimes, but if your nose always feels blocked or congested, there may be a functional issue.
Mouth breathing is another common sign of obstruction because it’s very difficult to breathe through blocked or narrow nasal passages. Mouth breathing is especially common during sleep, and it can cause loud, habitual snoring. Dry mouth, which results from mouth breathing, is also common with people who have nasal obstruction.
Other symptoms include nosebleeds, sinus infections, and sinus pressure headaches. Depending on how severe the obstruction is, it can lead to some serious health concerns like insomnia, hypertension, and heart disease. Rhinoplasty or other surgeries can correct the problem and put an end to these uncomfortable symptoms.
Causes of Nasal Obstruction
A deviated nasal septum is the most common cause of airway obstruction. This occurs when the bone and cartilage that separate the right and left nostrils are crooked. A deviated septum can cause serious breathing difficulties, but many people with this problem don’t realize they have it until a doctor notices it. When you’ve always had a deviated septum, you may not realize what it feels like to breathe normally. After having it corrected with surgery, you’ll realize how much you were struggling to breathe before.
Swollen turbinates are another cause of obstruction that can be fixed with rhinoplasty. Your turbinates extend from the septum and humidify the air as you inhale. They can swell up as a result of allergies or a deviated septum and block your nasal passages.
Nasal polyps can also obstruct your nose and make it difficult to breathe. Polyps are soft, benign growths that can develop along your nasal passageways. If they grow large enough, they will affect your breathing and will need to be surgically removed.
How Rhinoplasty Fixes Nasal Obstruction
During a rhinoplasty procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your nose and lift up the skin to look at the bone structure underneath. Then, they will remove, reshape, or reposition the bone, cartilage, and tissue to remove the obstruction and open up your nasal passageways. Depending on where your septum is deviated, your surgeon may focus on the bones near the top of your nose or the cartilage in the lower portion of your nose.
To fix swollen turbinates, your surgeon may remove the outer layer of tissue on each turbinate. This will create extra space in your airway and help you breathe. Some surgeons fracture the turbinates, which allows them to position the structures in a way that doesn’t block the nasal passages.
If you have nasal polyps, your surgeon will use a snare surgical instrument or similar tool to remove them. This doesn’t require the removal or repositioning of any bone or cartilage, so you don’t necessarily need rhinoplasty to fix this issue. However, many people combine their nasal polyp removal with a rhinoplasty to fix other functional or cosmetic issues at the same time.
If your breathing problems are caused by other structural issues in your nose, your surgeon can reshape your nose to correct these issues. Rhinoplasty can make the nose larger or smaller and the nostrils wider or narrower. It can also fix bumps, dips, or other problems that may affect your breathing. In most cases, if your breathing problems are caused by the structure of your nose, rhinoplasty can be a good solution.
Dr. Daniel G. Becker, MD specializes in rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty. He is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and he is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Philadelphia Magazine has named him one of the top doctors for rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty, and several other magazines have recognized him as well. In addition to performing surgeries at his own practice, the Becker Rhinoplasty Center, Dr. Becker is a Clinical Professor of Facial Plastic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania.