The term Rhinoplasty comes from the Greek Rhinos meaning Nose, and Plassein meaning to shape. There are two types of rhinoplasty the first addresses the issue of reconstructing the nose and the second applies mainly to aesthetics.
Reconstructive surgery is usually performed under general anesthetic, the basis to provide better function of the nose, correcting birth defects, trauma or injury, or breathing problems caused by abnormalities of the nasal passages.
Cosmetic surgery is performed purely to enhance the appearance of a person's profile, whether that is removing a hump from the bridge of the nose, reducing the size, removing overhang or correcting a concave profile.
Rhinoplasty has been practiced for centuries; stemming right back to around 500BC in ancient India, the procedure was first performed by Sushruta, a surgeon and teacher of Ayurveda. Sushruta the father of plastic surgery used rhinoplasty to rebuild the noses of criminals who had had the tip of their noses chopped off as punishment for their crimes. The methods he used all those centuries ago remain the basis of rhinoplasty today.
A rise in the use of rhinoplasty procedures was noted in the renaissance period, but the first intranasal rhinoplasty was performed in 1887 by a surgeon called John Orlando Roe, later in 1898 intranasal rhinoplasty was used for the first time for cosmetic reasons.
The most major advances in Rhinoplasty came about due to necessity in World War 1 (WW1). During this period, thousands upon thousands of soldiers required some kind of facial reconstruction to remedy injuries and deformities caused by shrapnel wounds and bullets. This in turn brought about advances in anesthesia and the awareness of antiseptic techniques in order to control the spread of infection.
Cosmetic surgery used to be considered a luxury purely for the rich and famous, however this has changed dramatically over the course of recent years with the demand for cosmetic procedures of all kinds increasing. Rhinoplasty still remains one of the most popular procedures performed today, not only for women, but a staggering percentage requested by men.
A surgeon performing rhinoplasty must have in depth knowledge of all the parts and functions of the nose, and their specific purposes. Smell obviously being one function, the other is the way the soft tissue covered concha secretes mucous, the function of this is as we inhale through the nose, air is dragged over the concha and mucous, the aim to humidify and warm up the air before it hits the delicate structure of the lungs.
Before nose reshaping can be performed, concise medical history has to taken from each individual patient, medical history can have an impact as to whether rhinoplasty can be performed. Any history of bleeding problems or easy bruising should be given prior to surgery as this could have serious implications both during and after surgery.
Smoking should be stopped at least 3 weeks prior your procedure and cessation should last, at least until 3 weeks post op, although more desirable to give up completely.
Full disclosure of any medications has to be given, even if these are over the counter remedies, and notify the surgeon if you have had a cold or sinus problems within two weeks prior to surgery. Medications such as Aspirin based products, or anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) should be stopped prior to surgery as most of these types of analgesia contain an agent which thins the blood, therefore has the potential to cause problems again either during or post surgery.
Recuperation and healing times vary post surgery, but in the main side effects and bruising will subside within the first 2 or 3 weeks. Dressings will be removed 7 days post surgery, but the full effects of rhinoplasty are fully apparent after 3 months when swelling calmed.
Perhaps we all owe modern rhinoplasty to the criminals of 500BC who are after all the inspirational for corrective surgery of the nose.
Anna Stenning researches the history of Rhinoplasty stretching right back to 500BC, the advances in techniques for both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.