December 25, 2012

Putting the Risks of Rhinoplasty Into Perspective

Angie Buonassisi
# min read

Putting the Risks of Rhinoplasty Into PerspectiveIn considering cosmetic surgery, you may wonder what the potential health complications are. The chance of a medical issue occurring due to rhinoplasty is extremely low. Cosmetic complications, on the other hand, are a reality you need to understand and feel comfortable with prior to having a nose job.Understanding the risks - and putting them into perspective - is an important part of the process leading up to your rhinoplasty, and choosing the right surgeon can help.Understanding the medical risksHealth complications rarely occur as a result of rhinoplasty. Less than 1% of patients will experience some bleeding or infection as a direct result of the procedure, and these issues are generally not dangerous unless left untreated. As such, it's important to choose a surgeon who's well equipped to handle any medical complications that may occur.Mitigating the medical risksDuring your consultation, ask how the surgeon normally deals with medical complications. Is there a 24-7 phone number you can call in case of emergency? Does the surgeon have admitting privileges, or must you check yourself into the hospital? Does his or her practice include a team of professionals you can speak to if you have any questions or concerns during recovery?Listen to the surgeon's responses carefully and decide: does he or she seem experienced and capable in dealing with unexpected medical emergencies? Have your concerns been fully addressed, or were your fears simply dismissed?Understanding the cosmetic risksCosmetic complications, which occur in about 10% of rhinoplasty patients, refer to unfavourable aesthetic results - the way your nose looks after surgery. The cosmetic risks associated with rhinoplasty can include:

  • recurrence of a hump;
  • drooping of the tip of the nose;
  • twisting of the nose; or
  • visible irregularities through the skin.

These risks can be placed in two categories: those your surgeon can control, and those he or she can't. The recurrence of a hump post rhinoplasty is a cosmetic complication your surgeon can't control - it is not generally influenced by how the procedure is performed. (Fortunately, only a tiny percentage of patients experience a recurring hump, making the risk very minimal.)Other cosmetic conditions are directly influenced by procedure. A person with thin skin, for example, is at greater risk of certain features (i.e., the edges of reconstructed nasal bones) showing through than someone with thicker skin. This risk, like many others, can be reduced or mitigated through specialized surgical procedures (in this case, the use of spreader grafts).Mitigating the cosmetic risksDuring your consultation, a rhinoplasty expert will:

  1. use tools (computer imaging; before/after photos of past clients with similar cases) to communicate any potential cosmetic risks;
  2. explain to you what surgical method(s) he or she plans to use in order to reduce or mitigate the risk;
  3. discuss what his or her revision policy is, should you feel dissatisfied with your results;
  4. ensure you feel comfortable moving forward with the procedure; and/or
  5. refuse to perform the procedure if the risk of cosmetic complication is too great, and there are no methods to mitigate it.

Choosing the right surgeonPatients who experience dissatisfactory results typically have one thing in common: a bad consultation. Just as a reputable cosmetic surgeon will use the consultation process to assess whether you're a good candidate for rhinoplasty or not, you should use this time to decide if he or she is the right surgeon for you. Ask lots of questions and make sure you feel 100% confident in the surgeon's answers. A well-designed consultation process will inform you of all the benefits and risks associated with cosmetic surgery (including those most specific to you) and can go a long way to ensuring you are happy with your results.

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