Will A Rhinoplasty Affect My Sense of Smell?


Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure that alters your nose shape and structure. Patients often ask us whether or not their sense of smell or breathing will be affected if they undergo rhinoplasty surgery. While recovering from the surgery, you may experience difficulty with breathing or with your sense of smell. However, this is a temporary experience and will resolve as the inflammation in your nose subsides.

What is Rhinoplasty and How Does it Affect Your Nose?

 Rhinoplasty surgery involves a surgeon changing the bone, skin, and cartilage of your nose. This process allows the surgeon to change the shape of your nose as well as its size. Many times patients come to us for rhinoplasty surgery because they want to change the aesthetic of their nose. However, we also have patients who have come to us because they want to improve their breathing, fix a birth defect or repair their nose after an injury. These problems are due to the underlying structure of the nose. Changing the structure can fix the problem. In this way, rhinoplasty surgery can actually improve your breathing.

How to Prepare for Rhinoplasty Surgery

 Preparing for rhinoplasty surgery is important and can help make sure that you do not experience a loss of smell or breathing difficulties. According to MayoClinic, the first step in preparing for your rhinoplasty is to speak with your surgeon about your medical condition. To avoid complications and to ensure you get the best result, your surgeon will perform a physical exam and run blood tests.

 Your surgeon will discuss your expectations for your surgery. This is also when your surgeon will take photographs of your nose. These photos will then be manipulated with software to show the different possible results. A before-and-after collage will be shared with you and make it clear what the goal will be for your surgery. Your surgeon will also review your lab results and your current list of medications. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, you will also need to ask someone to drive you home from surgery as well as stay with you the night after your procedure.

Nasal Swelling During Recovery

 Most patients experience nasal swelling after surgery and during the recovery period. This swelling is part of the inflammation from the surgery and will subside. Until it does, however, the swelling will limit the airflow in your nostrils. This lack of airflow makes it difficult to smell and you may also notice that your ability to taste food gets affected. It may also feel more difficult to breathe and you will need to breathe through your mouth.

 Once the swelling has gone down, your sense of smell will return and you will be able to breathe easily through your nose again. Swelling after rhinoplasty typically lasts anywhere from three to six weeks as the body heals. The U.S. National Library of Medicine asks patients to seek experienced surgeons to avoid possible complications. Although rhinoplasty is a commonly performed procedure, the results vary greatly depending on the surgeon chosen.

Importance of Trusting Certified Surgeons

 To achieve superior results, you need to trust a certified surgeon. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery points out that “your choice of cosmetic surgeon will be a choice you live with for years, if not your entire life.” A rhinoplasty procedure will have a direct effect on the way that you look and affect the way you see yourself in the world. It’s important to make sure that you are choosing the best surgeon so that you are happy with your results.

 According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, all plastic surgeons must be board certified (by ASPS) and should have a minimum of six years in surgical training. Another way to ensure you choose a plastic surgeon you like is to look at their results. Ask to see before and after images of prior patients. You may also be able to speak to former patients and learn more about the surgeon’s process for greater peace of mind. This can help you make your choice once you’ve narrowed down your list to trusted certified surgeons.

 When it comes to rhinoplasty, most patients will recover easily within a few weeks to a few months. Nasal swelling will subside and their sense of smell, as well as their ability to breathe through their nose, will return. It is possible for additional complications, but these complications are rare. Rhinoplasty is one of the most popular cosmetic and functional plastic surgery procedures performed today. Choose a great surgeon who is board-certified and experienced, and you won’t need to worry.

Image credit: Rhinoplasty via Gerain0812/shutterstock