When you think of rhinoplasty, what comes to mind? In many cases, it’s a procedure to change the way the nose looks. As one of the most popular plastic surgeries worldwide, rhinoplasty is often performed for purely cosmetic reasons.
But rhinoplasty can do more than simply change the way the nose looks. It some cases, it can also improve the function of the nose. Think about all the things you rely on your nose to do. It helps you breathe. It allows you to smell. It also plays an important role in helping you to taste and how you sound when you speak.
Functional rhinoplasty is nasal surgery that can correct several different issues impacting how your nose functions. If you’ve been having trouble with your nose, here’s what you should know about what functional rhinoplasty can do and what you can expect from the procedure.
Why Would You Need Functional Rhinoplasty?
There are many reasons a person might consider functional rhinoplasty.
One common reason is to correct the damage caused by a broken nose. If you’ve experienced a nasal fracture, it’s a good idea to have a plastic surgeon evaluate and examine your nose a few days after the fracture.
How a nasal fracture is treated with functional rhinoplasty depends on the stage of the injury and the damage to the nose. If it is early enough after the break, a plastic surgeon might "reset" the nose into the correct position through a closed nasal reduction. An open nasal reduction can be performed within one month of the fracture.
In both cases, the goal of the reduction is to reposition the fractured nose into a more favorable shape, so that it can heal properly. After either an open or closed reduction, a surgeon might perform a full septorhinoplasty to further improve the appearance of the nose. Usually, the full surgery can’t be performed until several months after the fracture.
In other cases, functional rhinoplasty might be necessary to correct breathing issues. Some people have enlarged turbinates on the inside of their nasal passages. Turbinates are protrusions inside the nose that help to control moisture levels inside the nasal passages.
The turbinates in some people’s noses can become enlarged, due to a variety of factors, such as allergies, smoking or even a change in position. When enlarged, the turbinates can block the nasal passages, interfering with breathing. Surgery can reduce the size of the turbinates.
Another functional nasal procedure is a septoplasty, which is performed to correct a deviated septum. The septum divides the nasal passages. If it leans too far to one side or the other, it can block the airway. Septoplasty repositions the septum, helping people breathe easier.
Functional rhinoplasty can also be performed to correct damage to the nose caused by bites and other trauma or skin cancer damage.
What Happens During Functional Rhinoplasty?
What happens during functional rhinoplasty depends in large part on the reason for the surgery. If a person needs surgery to correct a deviated septum, the surgeon will likely perform a septoplasty. During septoplasty, the surgeon will focus on repositioning the septum.
In the case of surgery to correct deformities caused by a dog bite or skin cancer, a facial plastic surgeon will often take skin grafts from other areas of the body and transfer them to the nose.
As with cosmetic rhinoplasty, some recovery time is needed after functional rhinoplasty. Usually, people will want to take at least one week off from work or school. Other activities, such as exercise, will need to be avoided for several weeks after the surgery.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Functional Rhinoplasty?
While insurance plans don’t usually cover plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons, your insurance provider might offer some coverage for functional rhinoplasty if the surgery is determined to be "medically necessary.”
It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to find out what it will cover and what its requirements are for coverage. If it turns out that your insurance plan doesn’t offer coverage, there are financing options available to make the cost of surgery more manageable.
Will Functional Rhinoplasty Change the Way Your Nose Looks?
In some cases, it is possible to combine a functional rhinoplasty with a cosmetic rhinoplasty. Many patients choose this option. It also might be the case that correcting a functional issue with your nose leads to a natural improvement in its external appearance. For example, septoplasty can often help to straighten out a crooked nose.
Dr. Shervin Naderi is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon who specializes in nasal surgery at his practice in Virginia. If you would like to learn more about functional rhinoplasty at the Naderi Center, call 703-481-0002 (Reston, VA) or 301-222-2020 (Chevy Chase, MD). You can also contact us online for more information.