17th April 2013

Complexity and complications in rhinoplasty

The nose is a very complicated nasal anatomy.  It is made up of intricate 3 dimensional pieces of often fine cartilage and bone which fit together as a complicated 3D jigsaw.  On the outside is a coat of skin and on the inside a lining of mucus membrane both of which also contribute to the shape of the nose.  Surgery whether cosmetic Rhinoplasty to improve shape or functional Rhinoplasty to improve nasal breathing is often complicated because of the complexity of the shapes being changed or rebuilt.

There is no medical procedure or operation that is risk free or free of the chance of complication.  This is because we don’t have a 100% technology and know how to remove, reshape and rebuild human tissues and structures.  This is even more relevant for complicated structures like the nose.  We also don’t have complete understanding and therefore complete control over the healing process.  As a result there are always unknowns in Rhinoplasty surgery and so the final result can not be completely predicted.  The more complicated the nasal shape, the more complicated will be the surgery and therefore the higher the chance of complication.

An experienced surgeon who specialises in Rhinoplasty will have greater knowledge and therefore a greater chance of minimising unpredictability and complication.  However it’s important to appreciate that even the most experienced surgeons have patients who have complications from surgery.  It’s often said that the only way to avoid complications is not to perform surgery!

Ask your surgeon about his experience, ask him how long he’s been performing Rhinoplasty, ask him how he assesses and reflects on his results, ask him how he strives to improve his results and ask him whether he researches or teaches on Rhinoplasty as this involves reflection and thought and a desire to understand and improve Rhinoplasty.