What is a Functional rhinoplasty?
A functional rhinoplasty addresses both the cosmetic and breathing aspects of the nose. Traditionally, a rhinoplasty is sought out to improve the appearance of people who dislike their noses for cosmetic reasons. But rhinoplasty can also improve the function of the nose, providing relief to people who suffer from breathing obstruction due to congenital deformities or damage caused by injuries.
Does Insurance Cover Functional Rhinoplasty?
Rhinoplasties performed for functional reasons, such as correcting documented breathing problems, are one of the only plastic surgeries that may be at least partially covered by health insurance. The functional part may be covered like the septoplasty or turbinoplasty. However, the cosmetic portion will not. Also, your insurance carrier may require you to perform this surgery at a hospital or ambulatory surgery center they are contracted with. This will affect the cost of the cosmetic portion of the case. All these details will require coordination with your insurance provider to determine feasibility.
Why combine functional and aesthetic rhinoplasty?
Functional nose jobs do not have to make visible changes to the look of your nose, but the best plastic surgeons understand that the form and function of the nose are intimately linked. Surgeries that aim to improve breathing can change the appearance of the nose, and cosmetic surgeries can impact breathing if not done properly. The benefit of addressing aesthetics and function in one step is highly desirable for patients in that costs are lowered overall, and recovery time is much less.
How do people know if they are candidates for nose jobs that are both cosmetic and functional? Read on for a look at some of the common issues that functional rhinoplasties can resolve:
Causes of Nasal Obstruction
Millions of Americans suffer chronic breathing problems that don’t respond well to ordinary treatment. Often, the blockage is related to three structural abnormalities inside the nose that can be corrected by rhinoplasty: a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, and Internal or External Valve narrowing. These problems can occur alone or in combination, and are the result of abnormal growth or traumatic injuries.
A nasal septum is “deviated” when the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity in half are significantly off center or crooked. This can partially or completely close one of the nasal passages, making it quite difficult to breathe. When this problem is fixed at the same time as cosmetic changes to the nose, the procedure is called septorhinoplasty.
The turbinates are the tissues that line the inside of the nasal passages. They are made mostly of nasal mucosa and serve as the nose’s humidifiers. Although it is normal for them to periodically swell in response to the position of the body or environmental conditions that cause allergies, chronic enlargement can obstruct one or both sides of the nasal passage and cause breathing difficulties. Surgical treatment, including partial removal, is sometimes needed for relief.
Internal Or External Vault Narrowing or Collapse
Breathing problems occur when the middle vault, or sidewalls, of the nose are so weak that it collapses inward during inhalation. This problem can be corrected during rhinoplasty, usually with the use of a spreader graft or cartilage grafts that helps to open the middle vault
This same obstruction can occur in the vestibule or entrance of the nose, where the ala or nostril meets the columella or midline of the nose. If the nostril is too weak, it can collapse during inspiration and cause obstruction. This can happen from congenitally weak cartilages or from aggressive rhinoplasty surgery to reduce tip size. Correcting this with cartilage grafts can greatly improve breathing.
Bruises around the eyes and a slightly crooked appearance after a traumatic injury are strong indicators of a broken nose. If the bones are pushed over or out to one side, immediate medical attention is required. But even if the trauma isn’t obvious, don’t delay consulting with a plastic surgeon if you suspect a fracture. If you wait too long, surgery cannot be performed until the swelling subsides, which can take about two weeks. If the displacement of nasal bones causes breathing difficulties, a septorhinoplasty may be needed to correct the problem.
Chronic sinus infections
Discomfort while breathing is not the only side effect of such nasal deformities as a deviated septum. When swelling and nasal blockages prevent the nose from draining properly, the aftermath of colds and allergies can cause a constant cycle of painful sinus infections. Mucus builds inside swollen tissues, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Functional rhinoplasty can eliminate chronic sinusitis.
Sagging cheeks, hooded eyelids and loose skin under the chin are common signs of facial aging, but few people realize that growing older can also cause nasal obstructions. When the cartilage in the nose and its tip are weakened by age and droop due to gravity, the sides of the nose can collapse inward, blocking airflow. Mouth breathing or noisy and restricted breathing are common results. If lifting the tip of your nose helps you breathe better, functional rhinoplasty can offer relief.
Functional Rhinoplasty Recovery
The recovery after a functional rhinoplasty is not much different from that of a regular aesthetic rhinoplasty. You will need one week of rest at home before starting normal sedentary activities. Usually these surgeries include placement of internal nasal splints to keep the internal lining of the nose from swelling excessively. These internal splints are removed at the 1 week postop visit.
Although rhinoplasty can achieve beautiful cosmetic results, there are many reasons that nose jobs can also improve a patient’s quality of life. Whether you suffer from chronic sinus infections, sleep disorders or a deviated septum that makes it hard to breathe, a skilled plastic surgeon can reshape your nose in a way that helps you breathe easier for the rest of your life. The procedure for scheduling and undergoing a functional and aesthetic rhinoplasty is further detailed in this article.
Thomassen Plastic Surgery is the top choice for South Florida patients looking for an award-winning plastic surgeon who provides natural-looking results. Contact us for more information about functional rhinoplasty or the many other procedures we offer.
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