Possible Risks of Rhinoplasty

This article was updated on May 2nd, 2024 at 07:25 pm

Rhinoplasty, also known as nose surgery, is a surgical procedure done to improve the shape of the nose, correct respiratory functions, or achieve both. However, like any surgical intervention, rhinoplasty also carries some risks.

10 Possible Risks of Rhinoplasty

Postoperative Bleeding

Bleeding after rhinoplasty is a rare complication and usually resolves on its own or with minimal medical intervention. If bleeding continues, additional treatment may be needed to manage the situation.


Although the risk of infection is low, if an infection develops, it can lead to serious consequences. Infection can result in abscess formation, which may require surgical drainage. Antibiotic treatment and proper wound care can minimize the risk of infection.

Airway Obstructions Due to Adhesions

Scarring or adhesions formed after surgery can block the airflow inside the nose, making breathing difficult. This condition may require additional surgical intervention.

‘Polly Beak’ Deformity

If an excessive portion of the osseo-cartilaginous skeleton is removed, the external nasal skin may lose support, leading to a deformity known as ‘polly beak.’ This is typically correctable with revision rhinoplasty.

‘Saddle Nose’ Deformity

If the septum is not sufficiently supported, a collapse in the nasal bridge can occur. This condition is known as “saddle nose” or “boxer’s nose” deformity and can lead to both aesthetic concerns and breathing problems. This issue is generally correctable through revision surgery using grafts.

Pinched Tip Nose

Excessive removal of the cartilage at the tip of the nose can lead to an abnormally narrow appearance and a pinched look. This situation requires correction through a tip revision procedure.

Columella Numbness

The columella, the tissue segment between the nostrils supporting the tip of the nose, can experience numbness or loss of sensation if incorrectly cut during surgery. This condition can persist for months.

Septal Perforation

Accidental perforation of the septum during rhinoplasty (septal perforation) can lead to chronic nosebleeds, crusting, difficulty breathing, and whistling breathing sounds. While septal perforation can sometimes be small and asymptomatic, it may require surgical intervention in cases where it is large and causes significant symptoms.

Empty Nose Syndrome

Turbinectomy, a procedure to reduce the size of the turbinates within the nose, can lead to “empty nose syndrome” if done excessively. This condition makes patients feel as though their noses are too open and not receiving enough air, reducing the sensation of airflow within the nose and often accompanies uncomfortable symptoms. Management typically involves humidification, saline sprays, and sometimes surgical revision.

Skin Necrosis

During rhinoplasty or any surgical procedure, skin necrosis can occur due to a reduction or interruption in blood flow to the skin tissue. Skin necrosis refers to the death of tissue and typically presents as darkened, blackened, or blue-green discoloration indicating tissue damage.

Treatment for necrosis usually involves the surgical removal of necrotic tissue, repair with healthy tissue, and sometimes long-term wound care. Additionally, antibiotics and other medications may be used to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection.

Skin necrosis is more commonly seen in smokers, as smoking narrows blood vessels and reduces blood flow, which can lead to tissue damage and ultimately necrosis. Therefore, surgeons often advise patients to quit smoking before and after surgery.

Other factors that can contribute to necrosis include excessive tissue trauma, infection, inadequate tissue oxygenation, and underlying vascular diseases. To reduce the risk of necrosis after rhinoplasty, surgeons should take care during surgery to preserve tissue integrity and blood flow. Additionally, patients need to be vigilant about nutrition and hydration, as well as wound care and infection prevention during the postoperative recovery process.

In Conclusion

These risks represent potential complications of rhinoplasty surgery and each requires a comprehensive preoperative assessment and a detailed discussion between the patient and the surgeon. The experience and expertise of the surgeon performing the operation play a crucial role in minimizing these risks. Additionally, the patient’s adherence to postoperative instructions and careful follow-up are critically important for managing any potential complications.

It is important for patients to carefully evaluate all possible risks and complications before deciding to undergo rhinoplasty and to discuss these issues openly with their surgeon. Early detection and treatment of any complications that arise after surgery are essential for achieving a positive outcome.