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Breathe Easier - How Specialized Rhinoplasty Can Correct Breathing Problems

Your nose may be beautiful the way it is, but could it be affecting other aspects of your health?  Trouble breathing and sinus issues can often be traced back to the anatomy of your nose, but fortunately a new solution is on the rise.  Rhinoplasty is no longer for cosmetic purposes alone, it is now being used as a medical treatment for sinus and breathing problems.

Poor Anatomy

On the outside, your nose may appear perfectly shaped and cute as a button (or not), but on the inside you could have a twisted septum, nasal polyps, or a collapsed valve.  Your nasal anatomy may be the cause of your breathing or sinus problems if you frequently experience the following symptoms:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Mouth breathing (especially at night)
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Nose bleeds
  • Recurrent sinus infections
  • Sinus pressure headaches
  • Sleep disturbance

If these problems are not bad enough, more serious issues could develop if the problem is left untreated including insomnia, hypertension, sleep apnea, and heart disease.  Consulting with your doctor and a cosmetic surgeon could help you determine if poor nasal anatomy is the root cause of your problems and whether it can be corrected with specialized rhinoplasty.

Correcting Your Nose

One type if rhinoplasty, dubbed functional nasal surgery, alters the internal nasal passages without changing the structure of the outer nose.  Of course, if you wanted the surgeon to change the appearance of your nose while undergoing functional rhinoplasty, they would likely be happy to comply!

The following nasal problems are common in people with breathing issues.  Different functional nasal surgery procedures are used to address each problem and open the nasal passageway.

1. The Problem:  The septum, the dividing wall between the right and left nasal passages, is bent or twisted, blocking one or both airways.

The Fix:  Nasal septoplasty straightens the septum through the trimming, repositioning, or replacing of cartilage or bone in the nose.  This is an outpatient procedure that can be completed in 15 to 30 minutes of surgery.

2. The Problem: The turbinates (mucous-covered shelves of bone inside the nasal cavity) are enlarged and block air flow as it travels through the nose to the throat.

The Fix: The job of the turbinates is to warm, moisten, and filter the air so it is unwise to remove all of them.  However, a partial turbinate reduction can improve airflow.  Although recovery from this procedure is quick, you may experience nose bleeding for a few weeks after the surgery.

3. The Problem: Benign nasal polyps have grown in the nose, obstructing the nasal passages.

The Fix: The removal of nasal polyps is fairly easy, but they are likely to return.  The best course of action is to have them removed then take an aggressive allergy medication that specifically counteracts fungal allergies.

And If Those Don't Work

For some people, internal surgery is not enough to correct the severe problems that exist within their nose.  When noses are twisted, collapsed, or pinched, external surgical treatment may be required.  Techniques known as functional rhinoplasty straighten, enlarge, and reinforce the external nasal passages to improve air flow.

One of the most common problems requiring functional rhinoplasty is the collapse of a nasal valve.  The nasal valve is a very narrow portion of the nasal airway.  It collapses during deep inhalation, but is open during normal breathing.  The nasal valve can often collapse in people with naturally thin noses or noses altered by injury, aging, disease, or surgery.  There are many treatments for nasal valve collapse, but none of them have been shown to be effective for every patient due to variations in individual anatomy and tissue strength.

It may come as a surprise that the cause of your breathing problems could be due to poor nasal anatomy and it may be an even bigger surprise that it can be corrected with specialized forms of rhinoplasty.  Functional nasal surgery and functional rhinoplasty can change the way you breathe.  Consult a doctor like William M. Parell, MD, PSC, about the options available for your specific problems and breathe a little easier from there on out.