Risks & Complications of Rhinoplasty
With any type of activity there is inherent risk. An individual’s choice to undergo a surgical procedure is based on the comparison of the risk to potential benefit. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, you should discuss each of them with your surgeon to make sure you understand the risks, potential complications and consequences of rhinoplasty.
Bleeding – It is possible, though unusual, that you may have problems with bleeding during or after surgery. Should post-operative bleeding occur, it may require emergency treatment to stop the bleeding, or require a blood transfusion. Do not take any aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications for ten days before surgery, as this contributes to a greater risk of bleeding. Non-prescription “herbs” and dietary supplements can increase the risk of surgical bleeding. Hypertension (high blood pressure) that is not under good medical control may cause bleeding during or after surgery. Accumulations of blood under the skin may delay healing and cause scarring.
Infection – Infection is quite unusual after surgery. Should an infection occur, additional treatment including antibiotics may be necessary.
Scarring – Although good wound healing after a surgical procedure is expected, abnormal scars may occur both within the skin and the deeper tissues. Scars may be unattractive and of different color than the surrounding skin. There is the possibility of visible marks from sutures. Additional treatments including surgery may be needed to treat scarring.
Damage to deeper structures – Deeper structures such as nerves, tear ducts, blood vessels and muscles may be damaged during the course of surgery. The potential for this to occur varies with the type of rhinoplasty procedure performed. Injury to deeper structures may be temporary or permanent.
Unsatisfactory result – There is the possibility of an unsatisfactory result from the rhinoplasty surgery. The surgery may result in unacceptable visible or tactile deformities, loss of function, or structural malposition after rhinoplasty surgery. You may be disappointed that the results of rhinoplasty surgery do not meet your expectations. Additional surgery may be necessary should the result of rhinoplasty be unsatisfactory.
Numbness – There is the potential for permanent numbness within the nasal skin after rhinoplasty. The occurrence of this is not predictable. Diminished (or loss of skin sensation) in the nasal area may not totally resolve after rhinoplasty.
Asymmetry – The human face is normally asymmetrical. There can be a variation from one side to the other in the results obtained from a rhinoplasty procedure.
Chronic pain – Chronic pain may occur very infrequently after rhinoplasty.
Skin disorders/skin cancer – Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure to reshape both the internal and external structure of the nose. Skin disorders and skin cancer may occur independently of a rhinoplasty.
Allergic reactions – In rare cases, local allergies to tape, suture material, or topical preparations have been reported. Systemic reactions which are more serious may occur to drugs used during surgery and prescription medicines. Allergic reactions may require additional treatment.
Delayed healing – Wound disruption or delayed wound healing is possible. Some areas of the face may not heal normally and may take a long time to heal. Areas of skin may die. This may require frequent dressing changes or further surgery to remove the non-healed tissue.
Smokers have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.
Long term effects – Subsequent alterations in nasal appearance may occur as the result of aging, sun exposure, or other circumstances not related to rhinoplasty surgery. Future surgery or other treatments may be necessary to maintain the results of a rhinoplasty operation.
Nasal septal perforation – There is the possibility that surgery will cause a hole in the nasal septum to develop. The occurrence of this is rare. However, if it occurs, additional surgical treatment may be necessary to repair the hole in the nasal septum. In some cases, it may be impossible to correct this complication.
Nasal airway alterations – Changes may occur after a rhinoplasty or septoplasty operation that may interfere with normal passage of air through the nose.
Surgical anaesthesia – Both local and general anaesthesia involve risk. There is the possibility of complications, injury, and even death from all forms of surgical anaesthesia or sedation.
Substance abuse disorders – Individuals with substance abuse problems that involve the inhalation of vasoconstrictive drugs such as cocaine are at risk for major complications including poor healing and nasal septal perforation.
Additional Surgery Necessary
There are many variable conditions in addition to risk, and potential surgical complications that may influence the long term result from rhinoplasty surgery, even though risks and complications occur infrequently. The risks cited are particularly associated with rhinoplasty surgery. Other complications and risks can occur but are even more uncommon. Should complications occur, additional surgery or other treatments may be necessary. The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty, expressed or implied, as to the results that may be obtained. Infrequently, it is necessary to perform additional surgery to improve your results.
Deep Venous Thrombosis, Cardiac and Pulmonary Complications: Surgery, especially longer procedures, may be associated with the formation of, or increase in, blood clots in the venous system. Pulmonary complications may occur secondarily to blood clots (pulmonary emboli), fat deposits (fat emboli) or partial collapse of the lungs after general anaesthesia. Pulmonary and fat emboli can be life threatening or fatal in some circumstances. Air travel, inactivity and other conditions may increase the incidents of blood clots travelling to the lung causing a major blood clot that may result in death. It is important to discuss with your surgeon any past history of blood clots of swollen legs that may contribute to this condition. Cardiac complications are a risk with any surgery and anaesthesia, even in patients without symptoms. If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you might require hospitalisation and additional treatments.
Smoking, second-Hand Smoke Exposure, Nicotine Products (Patch, Gum, Nasal spray): Patients who are currently smoking, use tobacco products, or nicotine products are at a greater risk for significant surgical complications of skin dying, delay in healing and additional scarring. Individuals exposed to second hand smoke are also at potential risk for similar complications attributable to nicotine exposure. Additionally, smokers may have a significant negative effect from anaesthesia and recovery from anaesthesia, with coughing and possibly increased bleeding. Individuals who are not exposed to tobacco smoke or nicotine containing products have a significantly lower risk of this type of complication.
It is important to refrain from smoking at least six weeks before surgery and until your surgeon states it is safe to return, if desired.
Female patients information: It is important to inform your surgeon if you use birth control pills, estrogen replacement, or if you believe you may be pregnant. Many medications including antibiotics may neutralize the preventive effects of birth control pills, allowing for conception and pregnancy.
Intimate Relations after Surgery: Surgery involves coagulating of blood vessels and increased activity of any kind may open these vessels leading to a bleed or hematoma. Increased activity that increases your pulse or heart rate may cause additional bruising, swelling and the need for return to surgery and control of bleeding. It is wise to refrain from sexual activity until your surgeon states it is safe.
Medications: There are many adverse reactions that occur as the result of taking over the counter, herbal, and/or prescription medications. Be sure to check with your surgeon about any drug interactions that may exist with medication that you are already taking. If you have an adverse reaction, stop the medication immediately and call your surgeon for further instructions. If the reaction is severe, go immediately to the nearest hospital. When taking the prescribed pain medication after surgery, realize that they can affect your thought process. Do not drive, do not operate complex equipment, do not make any important decisions and do not drink any alcohol while taking these medications. Be sure to take your prescribed medication only as directed.