History of Rhinoplasty

By: William Berg

Rhinoplasty is plastic surgery that can be used to improve the look of the nose or improve its function. Cosmetic rhinoplasty makes the nose more beautiful, while medical rhinoplasty improves the function of the nose and is referred to as reconstructive rhinoplasty. The word rhinoplasty originates from two Greek words: rhinos and plastikos. Rhinos means nose in Greek and plastikos means ‘to shape'.

The first known instances of successful rhinoplasty were carried out in India in 600 B.C. An Indian surgeon named Sushata Samgita used surgery and skin reconstructions to improve the shape of noses that had been injured or cut off. Cutting of the nose or nose tip was a common way of punishing thieves in India during this period of time. The injured nose served as a warning to others and the convicts naturally wished to have their noses restored. By surgically reshaping noses and transplanting skin, Sushata Samgita made it possible for convicts to get a fresh start and live a life where they were not stigmatized by their previous conviction.

Today, cosmetic rhinoplasty is commonly used to make noses smaller, change their shape, lift up the nose tip, get rid of a humpback nose, take away a hanging septum, adjust a concave nose profile or make the overall nose appearance smoother.

Fashion, injuries and birth defects are three common reasons behind rhinoplasty.

Successful rhinoplasty requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of the various functions carried out by the human nose. All the different parts of the nose serve specific purposes and a skilled rhinoplasty surgeon will know how to reshape a nose without harming any of these important functions.

Some types of rhinoplasty can be performed under local anaesthetic, but sedation is also very common. Being sedated for 0.5-2 hours is common during rhinoplasty and after this you will typically have to spend eight hours in bed. How long you will be sedated will of course depend on the particular operation.

Rhinoplasty should not be carried out if you have suffered from a cold during the last two weeks, since this increase the risk of rhinoplasty complications. Aspirin and similar blood thinning medications should be avoided during the last few weeks prior to your rhinoplasty, since they decrease the bloods' ability to clot and can make surgery more dangerous. Informing your surgeon about all the medications that you are currently using is very important. Your surgeon must also know about any allergies, illness or unusual reactions to previous surgery.

During rhinoplasty, the incisions are often made from the inside rim of the nostrils to make them invisible. During some forms of rhinoplasty, incisions must also be made on the rims of the nose, but such incisions are usually very tiny and will not be noticed once they have healed properly. Sometimes the surgeon needs to add extra material to re-shape the nose of the patient. This material will preferably be taken from the patients' own body and can consist of cartilage as well as bone material. It is also possible to use artificial materials to reshape the nose during rhinoplasty.

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