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What is Nasal Reconstruction?

By Jami Yontz
Updated May 17, 2024
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Nasal reconstruction is a procedure in which a surgeon changes the shape and overall appearance of the nose, or corrects the nasal chamber to improve the breathing function of the person as a result of damage or trauma to the nose. A nasal surgery may also correct a deviated septum or remove blockages in the nasal passages during the reconstruction process. During a nasal reconstruction procedure, a surgeon can change the shape of the nostrils by making them more narrow, contour the nasal hump or bridge of the nose to create a sleeker profile, and life or reduce the size of the nasal tip to create a more defined nose. Depending on the type of reconstruction, the procedure will be performed with either local or general anesthesia, and there is usually no or minimal scarring.

A surgeon might recommend nasal reconstruction for a person who has a nasal deformity or would like to improve the appearance of their nose. Surgery is also an option for people who have had a nose fracture or other traumas to the nose, which has altered the original function and look of the nose. Those who have basal cell skin cancer and have had tumors or infected tissue removed from their nose during a Mohs micrographic surgery may have reconstruction surgery to repair the damage and return the nose to its original look.

There are many types of nasal reconstruction procedures. A regional flap procedure removes skin from another part of the face, usually the cheek or forehead, and transplants the skin over the defect. The nasolabial flap procedure is performed if the damage to the nose is deep and on the sides of the nostrils. Skin and cartilage from the nasolabial fold, the areas of skin that run down each side of the nose to the outside of the mouth, are moved and added to the nose. A forehead flap procedure takes the skin and its blood supply from the thicker skin of the forehead to heal severe defects and damage.

Recovery from nasal reconstruction can be lengthy depending on the procedure, and most people should expect a full recovery within a few months. The results of a nasal reconstruction will be apparent within three weeks, after the swelling and inflammation of the surgical site has gone down. Drainage and mild headaches are normal for the first few days after the procedure, and the nose may feel numb for a few weeks. A person can usually return to normal activities within a week, but should not exercise or wear glasses for almost six weeks.

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