RISKS OF RHINOPLASTY
The decision to undergo elective cosmetic surgery is often a decision most people make after lots of research and homework and consultation. While some people make the decision to undergo elective plastic surgery without much research or thought or hesitation, most people do give their decision lots of thought and consideration.
Unlike a trauma or cancer patient, elective cosmetic surgery patients do not “need” the surgery they are seeking. They want and desire the cosmetic surgery instead. So as Cosmetic Surgeons, we take otherwise healthy patients, put them through surgery with its down time and bruising and swelling and risk of complications in order to improve their image and self confidence a few weeks later. While a trauma patient who has broken his jaw in a car accident needs the maxillofacial surgery, regardless of surgical risks, in order to repair the broken jaw, to prevent infection and mastication malfunction, a cosmetic Rhinoplasty patient does not require a cosmetic Rhinoplasty unless there can be fairly certain and significant improvements of the nose afterwards to balance the risks of surgery.
So as a very cautious and conservative surgeon, my rule of thumb is roughly a 20% cut off. What I mean is that if the goals of improvement are not at least a 20% improvement of the face then elective cosmetic surgery should be avoided. If the goals are at least a 20% improvement (or hopefully more), then the benefits of elective cosmetic surgery may outweigh the risks of plastic surgery.
I have patients who come and see me after they have had several nose jobs by other surgeons but they are unhappy with the results. Some have had very poor results and I offer then Revision Rhinoplasty to correct the errors of the previous surgeons. Others have very decent noses and I will take time to educate them and discuss the facts of “tissue dynamics and healing” and will try my hardest to talk them out of another surgery. Of the latter group, some appreciate my honesty and efforts and will walk out of my office with a new appreciation for their noses. Others leave, falsely thinking that I somehow “did not see” their problem or do not want to help them, etc…
The fact is that any surgery carries risk. There is no denying that. We never sugar coat anything. I always have my patients sit down and thoroughly read the multi-page surgical consent forms so that they can have an opportunity to ask questions about every single aspect of the stated risks. I much rather my patients avoid surgery due to fear of risks than to have them blindly dive into a surgery.
For example, the Rhinoplasty Consent form from the American Society of Plastic Surgery is pasted below.
With any operation there are some more common risks and some more rare risks. But anything is possible and that is why patients need to read and comprehend these consents in their entirety not just as a means of signing a waiver to protect the plastic surgeon, but more importantly as a means for understanding what they are heading into. It’s often important for friends or relatives to be there for support and for added questioning.
With Rhinoplasty the more common risks are nose bleeds after surgery, infection, smell changes, scar tissue, healing asymmetry, anesthesia issues, needs for a revision to correct healing issues or under or over correction, breathing changes, just to name a few… Rare complications such as CSF leak and meningitis and damage to naso-lacrimal duct, or even death have been reported in the literature.
As a conservative surgeon who places safety before anything else, I like to minimize risks as much as possible by operating in the proper setting with the proper staff with the proper pre-op medical, psychological and lab work up, when needed, as well as the proper post-op care. We check labs to make sure Rhinoplasty patients don’t have common bleeding disorders or other issues. We give antibiotic prescriptions to try to prevent post-op infections. I only operate in major hospitals or major hospital run surgery centers in order to have the best equipment, the best assistants and the best Anesthesiologists. Unlike some plastic surgeons, I do not operate in my office or in small private surgery centers. Many cosmetic surgeons do so and their patients insist on it to avoid the costs of hospital facilities, or anesthesiologists. They may not have to pay for a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and instead will have a nurse administer Intravenous (IV) sedation or even oral sedation instead of anesthesia. Some of these offices or small surgery centers do not have the funds for proper sterility measures or strict guidelines that should be adhered to. Proper care is important – even in the proper setting. I am always present in the operating room from the moment my patient is going to sleep to the moment he or she is woken up. I do not trust techs or residents or assistants with these tasks or oversight. I do all of my own suturing unlike many plastic surgeons who will suture one side of the body while their assistant sutures the other side. I am present in the O.R. until the patient is awake and safe. I even do all of my own lidocaine injections in the O.R. and even prep and sterilize my own patients and do not rely on assistants or nurses do any of that. Being an “anal surgeon” is a good thing in my opinion.
While there are risks with Anesthesia, for Rhinoplasty the safer methods are either completely awake with local injections for pain control or General Anesthesia with an Endo-tracheal tube intubation (GETA). The reason many Anesthesiologists and plastic surgeons believe IV sedation or twilight anesthesia is unsafe for Rhinoplasty is due to the secretions or bleeding that will occur down the back of the throat. An awake patient can swallow or spit, and a GETA will somewhat protect the airway from these secretions but a sedated patient can be under more risk in this respect.
Anesthesia remains the number one fear of most patients undergoing Rhinoplasty. The fear of ending up with a “Michael Jackson nose” is the other common fear but it’s usually alleviated when a patient sees a skillful and respectable facial plastic surgeon and sees his or her work and does research on him or her. The Anesthesia fear is one that is carried through to the very moment of surgery and only afterwards when all goes well – is alleviated.
Some patients are afraid of potential post-op pain as well. All in all the vast majority of patients tell me that “you were right, Fair Oaks Hospital’s staff were extremely nice and the whole experience was much less traumatic than we imagined and I hardly have any pain and did not take any of the pain medication.” While this is the majority of my patients’ experience, some do have more swelling and more discomfort and post-op nausea and a rougher time than others.
Regardless, this is surgery and there are risks with any surgery. Even a simple mole removal can have risks of infection and scarring and allergic reaction to the numbing injection, etc. Despite these risks, the vast majority of patients have pleasant smooth experiences with cosmetic surgery and rhinoplasty. I even did my own wife’s nose job at Fair Oaks Hospital and have lots of faith in the hospital, the anesthesia department and the rhinoplasty surgery itself – when done properly by a skillful cosmetic surgeon. Otherwise I would not have recommended she get a nose job or would have done it elsewhere. But Fair Oaks Hospital has an award winning Anesthesia department and nursing staff. While these precautions and facts reduce risk, they do not erase risk. There is always risk but in the proper setting, risk is reduced and if complications do occur, there is a better likelihood of proper management of the patient and treatment of the complication. When some complications may kill a patient in the wrong office surgery setting, the same complications can be managed properly in the hospital setting.
The Board Certified Anesthesiologists will interview the patients and go over their portion of the procedure and their responsibilities and provide their own consent depicting risks and side effects. The reason I prefer using Anesthesiologists in the hospital or major surgery center setting is that they can do their part and focus on the patient’s safety and anesthesia and life while I can focus on my part – the cosmetic surgery. In an office setting using IV sedation, the plastic surgeon often has both of these responsibilities; and anesthesia is something surgeons are not trained to do.
However, for discussion’s sake, the major risks of Anesthesia are allergic or adverse reaction to the anesthetic substance, damage to lips or teeth or eyes during the intubation, nausea, sore throat, laryngospasm, malignant hyperthermia, anesthesia awareness, limb numbness or nerve damage, prolonged anesthesia due to certain genetic enzyme deficiencies, cardiovascular issues such as heart attack, stroke, and even death. These are all very serious risks and have to be considered by the cosmetic surgery patient and all patients. With all of this said, the risk of a major catastrophic episode or complication from general anesthesia in the correct hospital setting is significantly less than dying from a car accident! When you put things in perspective, the risk of anesthesia is very low but it’s there and present. While risk of getting struck by lightning is low, people do get hit by lightning every year and some do die from it.
For example, since 1999, I have witnessed about 3 patients go into laryngospasm during the wake up process after surgery. Two of the three ended up with water in their lungs as a side effect of the laryngospasm – a phenomenon known as Flash Pulmonary Edema. One of the 3 recovered from the laryngospasm just a few minutes later as if nothing had happened thanks to the skill of the Anesthesia staff. The other 2 with Flash Pulmonary Edema had to be kept in the ICU under the care of the internal medicine and critical care doctors, until the pulmonary edema resolved a few days later. Laryngospasm is a well known anesthesia complication. Common in very young children and rare in adult, they can occur. These are scary events that could have lead to death if not treated properly by the anesthesia staff. It could lead to death even when treated properly. However, all 3 patients recovered fully with no issues from their surgery or anesthesia. Two of these patients were Rhinoplasty patients and one was a lower extremity varicose vein stripping patient. Three patients out of thousands since 1999 is a very low number but the significance is that there are risks and bad things can happen and each patient has to weigh the risks against the benefits and then proceed after knowing all the information. In the proper setting, proper hospital, proper surgeon’s hands, The Naderi Center for Plastic Surgery and Dermatology can be very gratifying surgery with gratifying results. I have had a Rhinoplasty myself. So has my wife. And I have been able to improve the lives of many countless patients from all over the United States and other countries with this surgery but the best patient is the informed patient and all of the benefits and risks must be known.
ASPS CONSENT FOR RHINOPLASTY:
This is an informed-consent document that has been prepared to help inform you about Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery, its risks, and alternative treatments.
It is important that you read this information carefully and completely. Please initial each page, indicating that you have read the page and sign the consent for surgery as proposed by your facial plastic surgeon.
Surgery of the nose (Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery) is an operation frequently performed by facial plastic surgeons. This surgical procedure can produce changes in the appearance, structure, and function of the nose. Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery can reduce or increase the size of the nose, change the shape of the tip, narrow the width of the nostrils, or change the angle between the nose and the upper lip. This operation can help correct birth defects, nasal injuries, and help relieve some breathing problems.
There is not a universal type of Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery that will meet the needs of every patient. Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery is customized for each patient, depending on his or her needs. Incisions may be made within the nose or concealed in inconspicuous locations of the nose in the “open” Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery procedure. In some situations, cartilage grafts, taken from within the nose or from other areas of the body (ear, ribs, frozen rib, etc) may be recommended in order to help reshape the structure of the nose. Fascia or Alloderm may also be needed during surgery. Internal nasal surgery to improve nasal breathing can be performed at the time of the Cosmetic Nasal Surgery.
The best candidates for this type of surgery are individuals who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the appearance and function of their nose. In addition to realistic expectations, good health and psychological stability are important qualities for a patient considering Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery can be performed in conjunction with other surgeries.
Alternative forms of management consist of not undergoing the Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. Certain internal nasal airway disorders may not require surgery on the exterior of the nose. Risks and potential complications are associated with alternative surgical forms of treatment. Occasionally fillers may be injected to the nose for a “non surgical Rhinoplasty.” Medical management of sinus disorders and allergies may be necessary by your general Otolaryngologist or Primary Care doctor.
RISKS OF COSMETIC & FUNCTIONAL NASAL SURGERY SURGERY
Every surgical procedure involves a certain amount of risk and it is important that you understand these risks and the possible complications associated with them. In addition, every procedure has limitations. An individual’s choice to undergo a surgical procedure is based on the comparison of the risk to potential benefit. Although the majority of patients do not experience the following complications, you should discuss each of them with your facial plastic surgeon to make sure you understand the risks, potential complications, and consequences of Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery.
Bleeding– It is possible, though unusual, to experience a bleeding episode during or after surgery. Intra-operative blood transfusions may be required. Should post-operative bleeding occur, it may require an emergency treatment to drain the accumulated blood or blood transfusion. Hypertension (high blood pressure) that is not under good medical control may cause bleeding during or after surgery. Accumulations of blood under the skin may delay healing and cause scarring. Do not take any aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications for ten days before or after surgery, as this may increase the risk of bleeding. Non-prescription “herbs” and dietary supplements and drinks can increase the risk of surgical bleeding. Hematoma can occur at any time following injury. If blood transfusions are necessary to treat blood loss, there is the risk of blood-related infections such as hepatitis and HIV (AIDS). Heparin & Coumadin and Plavix medications that are used to prevent blood clots in veins can produce bleeding and decreased blood platelets. Control of bleeding may require packing, cauterization, embolization or further surgical treatments.
Infection– Infection is unusual after surgery. Should an infection occur, additional treatment including antibiotics, hospitalization, or additional surgery may be necessary. Toxic Shock is a very rare type of life threatening infection, usually as a result of Nasal Packing.
Scarring– All surgery creates and leaves scars, some more visible than others. Although good wound healing after a surgical procedure is expected, abnormal scars may occur within the skin and deeper tissues. Your body creates scar tissue. Scars may be unattractive and of different color than the surrounding skin tone. Scar appearance may also vary within the same scar. Scars may be asymmetrical. There is the possibility of visible marks in the skin from sutures. In some cases scars may require surgical revision or treatment. Scars are permanent.
Damage to Deeper Structures– There is the potential for injury to deeper structures including nerves, tear ducts, blood vessels, muscles, brain, and lungs (pneumothorax) during any surgical procedure. The potential for this to occur varies according to the type of Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery procedure being performed. Injury to deeper structures may be temporary or permanent &/or life threatening.
Change in Skin Sensation– It is common to experience diminished (or loss) of skin sensation in areas that have had surgery. There is the potential for permanent numbness within the nasal skin after Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. The occurrence of this is not predictable. Diminished (or loss) of skin sensation in the nasal area may not totally resolve after Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery.
Asymmetry– The human face is normally asymmetrical. There can be a variation from one side to the other in the results obtained from Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. Additional surgery may be necessary to attempt to revise asymmetry but perfect symmetry is often unrealistic and impossible. Your body will create scar tissue which will change the symmetry of the nose with time.
Skin Discoloration / Swelling– Some bruising and swelling normally occurs following Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. The skin in or near the surgical site can appear either lighter or darker than surrounding skin. Although uncommon, swelling and skin discoloration may persist for long periods of time and, in rare situations, may be permanent.
Seroma– Fluid accumulations infrequently occur in between the skin and the underlying tissues. Should this problem occur, it may require additional procedures for drainage of fluid.
Pain– You will experience pain after your surgery. Pain of varying intensity and duration may occur and persist after Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. Chronic permanent pain may occur very infrequently from nerves becoming trapped in scar tissue.
Allergic Reactions– In rare cases, local allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents have been reported. Serious life threatening
systemic reactions including shock (anaphylaxis) may occur to drugs used during surgery and prescription medications. Allergic reactions may require additional treatment.
Delayed Healing– Fracture disruption or delayed wound healing is possible. Some areas of the nose may not heal normally and may take a long time to heal. Areas of skin may die or necrose. This may require frequent dressing changes or further surgery to remove the non-healed tissue. Smokers and Revision patients have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.
Skin Sensitivity– Itching, tenderness, or exaggerated responses to hot or cold temperatures may occur after surgery. Usually this resolves during healing, but in rare situations it may be chronic.
Nasal Septal Perforation– Infrequently, a hole in the nasal septum will develop. The occurrence of this is rare. Additional surgical treatment may be necessary to repair the nasal septum. In some cases, it may be impossible to correct this complication. Crusting, whistling or nasal collapse may occur with varying side holes.
Nasal Airway Alterations– Changes may occur after a Cosmetic &/or Functional Nasal Surgery that may interfere with normal passage of air through the nose. “Runny nose” or “dry nose” may be a side effect of nasal surgery. Sometimes these problems become psychologically and physically overbearing.
Surgical Anesthesia– Both local and general anesthesia involve risk. There is the possibility of complications, injury, and even death from all forms of surgical anesthesia or sedation.
Substance Abuse Disorders– Individuals with substance abuse problems that involve the inhalation of vaso-constrictive drugs such as cocaine or Afrin are at risk for major complications including poor healing and nasal septal perforation.
Skin Contour Irregularities– Contour irregularities may occur. Residual skin irregularities at the ends of the incisions or “dog ears” are always a possibility and may require additional surgery. This may improve with time, or it can be surgically corrected. Occasionally this is permanent.
Sutures– Most surgical techniques use deep sutures. You may notice these sutures after your surgery. Sutures may spontaneously poke through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that requires removal. “Permanent sutures” may need to be removed surgically.
Unsatisfactory Result– Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained. You, &/or your friends and family, may be disappointed with the results of your Cosmetic &/or Functional Nasal Surgery. This would include risks such as asymmetry, loss of function, structural malposition, unacceptable visible or tactile deformities, unsatisfactory surgical scar location, poor healing, wound disruption, and loss of sensation. It may be necessary to perform additional surgery to attempt to improve your results.
Shock– In rare circumstances, your surgical procedure can cause severe trauma, particularly when multiple or extensive procedures are performed. Although serious complications are infrequent, infections or excessive fluid loss can lead to severe illness and even death. If surgical shock occurs, hospitalization and additional treatment would be necessary.
Cardiac and Pulmonary Complications– Surgery, especially longer procedures, may be associated with the formation of, or increase in, blood clots in the venous system. Pulmonary complications may occur secondarily to both blood clots (pulmonary emboli), fat deposits (fat emboli) or partial collapse of the lungs after general anesthesia. Pulmonary and fat emboli can be life-threatening or fatal in some circumstances. Air travel, inactivity and other conditions may increase the incidence of blood clots traveling to the lungs causing a major blood clot that may result in death. It is important to discuss with your physician any past history of blood clots or swollen legs that may contribute to this condition. Cardiac complications are a risk with any surgery and anesthesia, even in patients without symptoms. If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these life threatening complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment. A dropped lung can occur as a risk of anesthesia &/or rib harvest from your chest wall.
GRAFTS, etc- During Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery the surgeon may require additional graft material. Septal cartilage is usually the first choice but ear cartilage, rib cartilage, Frozen rib cartilage, Temporalis fascia, Alloderm, etc, are some other potentially necessary grafts or materials for your surgery. Additional scars, risks and costs may be associated with these but they are used only if needed for the best possible results.
Skin Disorders / Skin Cancer- Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery is a surgical procedure to reshape of both internal and/or external structure of the nose. Skin disorders and skin cancer may occur independently of a Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery.
Long-Term Results– Subsequent alterations in nasal appearance do occur as the result of healing after Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery, or as a result of aging, weight loss or gain, sun exposure, exercise, pregnancy, menopause, or other circumstances not related to Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. Future surgery or other treatments may be necessary.
Female Patient Information– It is important to inform your facial plastic surgeon if you use birth control pills, estrogen replacement, or if you believe you may be pregnant. Many medications including antibiotics may neutralize the preventive effect of birth control pills, allowing for conception and pregnancy.
Intimate Relations After Surgery– Surgery involves coagulating of blood vessels and increased activity of any kind may open these vessels leading to a bleed, or hematoma. Activity that increases your pulse or heart rate may cause additional bruising, swelling, and the need for return to surgery and control bleeding. It is wise to refrain from sexual activity until your physician states it is safe.
Smoking, Second-Hand Smoke Exposure, Nicotine Products (Patch, Gum, Nasal Spray)– Patients who are currently smoking, use tobacco products, or nicotine products (patch, gum, or nasal spray) are at a greater risk for significant surgical complications of skin dying, delayed healing, and additional scarring. Individuals exposed to second-hand smoke are also at potential risk for similar complications attributable to nicotine exposure. Additionally, smoking may have a significant negative effect on anesthesia and recovery from anesthesia, with coughing and possibly increased bleeding. Individuals who are not exposed to tobacco smoke or nicotine-containing products have a significantly lower risk of this type of complication. Please indicate your current status regarding these items below:
______ I am a non-smoker and do not use nicotine products. I understand the risk of second- hand smoke exposure causing surgical complications.
______ I am a smoker or use tobacco / nicotine products. I understand the risk of surgical complications due to smoking or use of nicotine products.
It is important to refrain from smoking at least 6 weeks before surgery and until your physician states it is safe to return, if desired.
Mental Health Disorders and Elective Surgery– It is important that all patients seeking to undergo elective surgery have realistic expectations that focus on improvement rather than
perfection. Complications or less than satisfactory results are sometimes unavoidable, may require additional surgery and often are stressful. Please openly discuss with your surgeon, prior to surgery, any history that you may have of significant emotional depression or mental health disorders. Although many individuals may benefit psychologically from the results of elective surgery, effects on mental health cannot be accurately predicted. Happy and optimistic patients often do better after elective surgery.
MEDICATIONS– There are many adverse reactions that occur as the result of taking over-the- counter, herbal, and/or prescription medications. Be sure to check with your physician about any drug interactions that may exist with medications which you are already taking. If you have an adverse reaction, stop the drugs immediately and call your doctor for further instructions. If the reaction is severe, go immediately to the nearest emergency room. When taking the prescribed pain medications after surgery, realize that they can affect your thought process and coordination. Do not drive, do not operate complex equipment, do not make any important decisions, and do not drink any alcohol while taking these medications. Be sure to take your prescribed medication only as directed. Patients who are or have taken Accutane for treatment of acne or any other reason cannot undergo elective surgery for at least 6-12 months after stopping the medication. Serious scarring may result otherwise.
Follow all physician instructions carefully; this is essential for the success of your outcome. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Personal and vocational activity needs to be restricted. Protective dressings and splints should not be removed unless instructed by your facial plastic surgeon. Successful post-operative function and outcome depends on both surgical technique, your body’s healing course, and subsequent care. Physical activity that increases your pulse or heart rate may cause bruising, swelling, scar tissue, fluid accumulation and the need for return to surgery. It is wise to refrain from intimate physical activities &/or exercise after surgery until your physician states it is safe. It is important that you participate in follow-up care, return for aftercare, and promote your recovery after surgery. It is important to discuss your concerns with your surgeon rather than ignore them, or discuss them with others who do not know the details of your surgery and intra-operative findings.
Most health insurance companies exclude coverage for cosmetic surgical operations or any complications that might occur from cosmetic surgery. If the procedure corrects a breathing problem or marked deformity after a nasal fracture, a portion may be covered. Many insurance plans exclude coverage for secondary or revisionary surgery. Please carefully review your health insurance subscriber-information pamphlet. You may be responsible for fees not covered by your insurance.
The cost of surgery involves several charges for the services provided. The total includes fees charged by your doctor, the cost of surgical supplies, anesthesia, laboratory tests, and hospital charges, depending on where the surgery is performed. Depending on whether the cost of surgery is covered by an insurance plan, you will be responsible for necessary co-payments, deductibles, and charges not covered. Additional costs may occur should complications develop from the surgery. Secondary surgery or hospital day surgery charges involved with revisionary surgery would also be your responsibility. Your facial plastic surgeon or his/her practice is not responsible for any such fees.
ADDITIONAL SURGERY NECESSARY
There are many variable conditions that may influence the long-term result from Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. Secondary surgery may be necessary to obtain improved results. Should complications occur, additional surgery or other treatments may be necessary. Even though risks and complications occur infrequently, the risks cited are particularly associated with Cosmetic & Functional Nasal Surgery. Other complications and risks can occur but are even more uncommon. The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single or even multiple surgical procedure.
Your body’s healing is out of your or your surgeon’s control and contributes significantly to your final outcome.
Informed-consent documents are used to communicate information about the proposed surgical treatment of a disease or condition along with disclosure of risks and alternative forms of treatment(s), including no surgery. The informed-consent process attempts to define principles of risk disclosure that should generally meet the needs of most patients in most circumstances.
However, informed-consent documents should not be considered all inclusive in defining other methods of care and risks encountered. Your facial plastic surgeon may provide you with additional or different information which is based on all the facts in your particular case and the current state of medical knowledge.
Informed-consent documents are not intended to define or serve as the standard of medical care. Standards of medical care are determined on the basis of all of the facts involved in an individual case and are subject to change as scientific knowledge and technology advance and as practice patterns evolve.
It is important that you read the above information carefully and have all of your questions answered before signing the consent on the next page.