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Side view of a blond woman's face and nose to represent rhinoplasty

What is rhinoplasty? All you need to know - from results to recovery time

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Pier Francesco Mancini

A nose job, or rhinoplasty, to use its proper name, is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures in the world, with more than 820,000 rhinoplasties carried out globally in 2019.

Alongside reshaping for cosmetic reasons, it can also be incredible if you have breathing problems due to a deviated septum or hypertrophic turbinates (when the nasal tissue is enlarged and obstructive).

But how does rhinoplasty surgery work? What’s the recovery time? And what results might you expect?

Fast facts

  • Best results

    1 procedure

  • Duration of results


  • Back to work

    1 week

  • Full recovery time

    1 year

  • Price range

    22,500 SAR to 56,000 SAR

  • Treatment duration

    Up to 3 hours

  • Comfort

    Local or general anaesthetic

  • Treatment type


What is rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty is the medical term for nose reshaping surgery – or a nose job – and is a popular procedure that can help alter the shape of your nose in a few different ways.

It’s a low-risk operation but, as with any procedure on your face, it’s not a decision to be rushed.

While there are other nose surgeries that specifically treat function, such as a septoplasty, which corrects a deviated septum, a rhinoplasty can improve the exterior and the shape of the nose, as well as how it functions.

How does rhinoplasty work?

During a consultation for rhinoplasty surgery, a surgeon will examine your nose and take some measurements. They may also take photos and use technology to show you potential results and work through a surgical plan with you.

If you want your nose made longer, or if your nose has been damaged and needs repairing, skin and cartilage will sometimes be used from other areas of your body. Often the ear or rib area can provide cartilage, while skin is more commonly taken from the forehead.

Open or closed surgery?

You can opt for a local or general anaesthetic, although most rhinoplasties are done using a general. Then, depending on the surgery, you may have an open or closed rhinoplasty.

A reduction rhinoplasty – where your nose is made smaller – will most likely be a closed operation, where the surgeon operates inside of the nostrils. The benefit is that there is little to no visible scarring. It also takes less time and can cause less swelling, meaning recovery time is often quicker.

Open rhinoplasty means the skin between and inside your nostrils is cut, leaving a small scar, usually beneath the columella (the tissue that links the nasal base to the tip and separates the nostrils). The surgeon will then remove or rearrange the cartilage and bone to change the shape of your nose.

A closed rhinoplasty is more common if this is your first procedure as the anatomy will be untouched. However, when the patient has had an accident or a previous surgery, it’s more likely that open techniques will be used to allow the surgeon full view of the tip cartilages and bones.

Cosmetic vs. medical nose shaping

The difference is that a cosmetic rhinoplasty is performed to alter the appearance of the nose while a medical rhinoplasty is to solve breathing problems.

A deviated septum is common, but if it’s particularly off-centre it can cause sinus problems and block noses, which can then have an adverse effect on all types of activity, from sleeping to swimming. Sports injuries and accidents can also alter your nose shape which, in turn, make it difficult to breathe easily. But you don’t need a medical reason to have the surgery – a surgeon will not judge your reasons.

In many cases, the two types are performed together, solving the breathing problems and in the same procedure changing the shape of the nose.

Areas that can be operated on:

  • The bridge: cartilage and bone can sometimes cause a hump which can be removed to smooth the bridge.
  • The tip: this type of surgery can be done through the nostril to remove and reshape the cartilage supporting the tip of the nose.
  • Length and width: the septum can be operated on, to change the central structure of the nose, affecting the overall length. The side nasal bone can also be operated on to change the width.

Rhinoplasty recovery time and results

While everyone’s rhinoplasty recovery time and results will be different, there are some common experiences after having rhinoplasty surgery.

What results can I expect from rhinoplasty?

It can take up to a year to see the full results. But after the swelling has reduced, you’ll notice a difference straight away. If you have had a hump removed from the bridge, you'll see results as soon as any swelling has gone down. If you've had a reduction, it's likely you won't see a huge change in size at first due to the swelling.

What is the typical rhinoplasty recovery time?

The healing process should be complete after around one year. But recovery in the short term usually follows this typical timeline:

  • Week one: the splint can be removed, and you can leave the house. You may have some bruising under the eyes.
  • Week two: most of the bruising and swelling will have subsided.
  • Weeks three to four: light cardio activities such as jogging, and cycling can resume.
  • Weeks five to six: you may introduce weights, wear your glasses, and blow your nose.
  • Three to six months: skin sensations and numbness should have returned to normal.

Some people recover quicker than this, while others may take a little longer. Your surgeon will advise you when you can return to certain activities as surgery is different for everyone.

Is nose reshaping permanent?

Yes, nose reshaping is permanent. It is possible to have a second rhinoplasty if you didn’t achieve the desired look, or if you sustain an injury and it needs correcting.

Who is most suitable for rhinoplasty?

Anyone who is unhappy with their nose. You need to manage your expectations and fully understand the results will be personal and permanent. Your surgeon should discuss all options with you, and you should feel comfortable and happy with your plan before proceeding. Remember, if you’re struggling to breathe through your nose, you may not need a full rhinoplasty and may benefit more from a septoplasty.

If you feel like you need a rhinoplasty, you should speak to a professional, registered surgeon who will advise you if you are suitable for the surgery.


  • Non-surgical rhinoplasty is a non-invasive procedure that uses injectable fillers to change the shape of your nose. This is a temporary procedure and will require regular injections to maintain it.
  • Make-up: The right products, applied well, can totally affect the appearance of your nose, in some cases helping it to appear slimmer and more defined.

Rhinoplasty facts

  • American otolaryngologist John Orlando Roe is thought to have documented the first procedure in 1887. He performed the surgery inside the nose to reduce scarring.


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