Can a Rhinoplasty Help Me Breathe Better?

For many people who pursue rhinoplasty (commonly referred to as a "nose job"), the procedure is purely cosmetic. However, if you have breathing issues or find that you snore, you may be wondering whether or not a rhinoplasty can improve your breathing. The short answer is yes - this procedure has the potential to fix structural issues that may be obstructing your breathing. However, these procedures may differ from your typical rhinoplasty. Below, we'll look into what type of rhinoplasty can improve breathing issues as well as your quality of life.

How does a Rhinoplasty work to improve breathing?

Everyone has experienced breathing issues due to a cold or congestion, but for some, breathing through the nose becomes a challenge that doesn't get easier. For some people, structural issues within the nose itself make breathing very difficult. These issues are often genetic, but they may also be caused by injuries that have healed abnormally.

If you are one of the people who struggle with breathing issues due to your nasal shape, you may not realize your breathing issue is structural at first. This is because, when there is a physical issue preventing comfortable breathing, it is deep within the nose. Sometimes, the issue is caused by a deviated septum, which is an abnormality in the cartilage of the nose that divides the nostrils. In other instances, this issue is caused by unusually narrow or misshapen nasal passages.

Because the structural issues that cause breathing trouble are often hard for you yourself to see, it is a good idea to consult a general practitioner if you are having trouble breathing. Your doctor will be able to examine you and determine whether the issue is a structural one. If your doctor sees an abnormality with your nasal structure, you can then set up a consult with a plastic surgeon.

A rhinoplasty with the goal of improving breathing is known as either a "functional rhinoplasty" or "nasal valve repair." By widening the nasal passages and/or improving the shape of the septum, this procedure makes it so airflow through the nose is increased. This, in turn, makes breathing easier and more comfortable, and it may also help to reduce symptoms of snoring.

How is this different from a cosmetic Rhinoplasty?

If you're like many people, you might be surprised to learn that rhinoplasty isn't always done to change the way you look. While both cosmetic and functional rhinoplasty procedures change the shape of your nose to an extent, they differ in one fundamental way: functional rhinoplasty reshapes the inside of the nose, while cosmetic rhinoplasty reshapes the outside. For instance, cosmetic rhinoplasty is frequently sought by those who want to make their nose straighter or smaller. Some people also want to narrow or widen their nose or make it into a particular shape.

While a cosmetic rhinoplasty is focused on appearance, it may involve some degree of reshaping the inside of the nose. However, most experienced plastic surgeons will be able to ensure that these changes do not negatively affect your ability to breathe well.

What if I want to breathe easier and also improve the appearance of my nose?

You may be wondering if you can combine functional and cosmetic rhinoplasty, as some who have issues with breathing may also want to reshape their nose while they are under anaesthesia for the functional rhinoplasty.

The good news is that, if you are a patient who wants to pursue both functional and cosmetic rhinoplasty, you can have both done at the same time. Of course, it's best to consult with one of the top plastic surgery specialists in LA (or elsewhere more relevant) and discuss this with them in detail, so that you can get the exact outcome you desire. Generally speaking though, there are two main benefits. One is that you can save money--since you will only need to cover operating room and anaesthetic costs for one surgery, you probably will spend less than if you opted to have separate cosmetic and functional rhinoplasties.

The other advantage is that you save yourself pain and recovery time. Recovering from a surgery, and especially recovering from one that involves the reshaping of bone, is often painful and time-consuming. Additionally, for most people, undergoing rhinoplasty will mean losing at least a few days of work or school. By combining procedures, you will be able to streamline recovery time.

It is important to note that, while the procedures can be combined, a combination functional/cosmetic rhinoplasty will almost always be more expensive than a rhinoplasty with a single focus.

How does the process work?

As with most plastic surgeries, rhinoplasty - whether cosmetic or functional, is a highly individualized procedure. If you are seeking out a rhinoplasty to improve your breathing, it is very important that you tell your surgeon about your symptoms. Then, taking your symptoms into account, your surgeon can examine your nose in order to help develop a surgical plan.

If you are hoping to also change the shape of your nose during this process, it may be helpful to tell your surgeon this as early on in the process as possible. This way, your surgeon will know all he or she needs to know while developing an individual surgical plan.

Recovery time varies depending on the extent of correction your rhinoplasty involves, but you very likely will need to plan to take some time off work or school. Be sure to ask your surgeon about downtime so you can plan accordingly. Lastly, you likely will need to plan for one or more follow-up appointments to be sure that your surgical site is healing well.

Are you ready to improve your breathing?

Having difficulty breathing is often distracting and uncomfortable, but you don't need to live with this treatable issue. If you are in the Washington, D.C. area, RENU, a practice founded by Dr Philip Schoenfeld, can help revolutionize your life. Dr Schoenfeld is a renowned facial plastic surgery and rhinoplasty specialist in Washington DC offering surgical and non-surgical procedures to improve health, appearance, and confidence. Better breathing is within your reach.

*Guest post


  1. I'd never thought of rhinoplasty to improve breathing, but it really makes sense. I bet a lot of people would get a better night's sleep after this procedure!

  2. My friends son had a rhinoplasty to improve his breathing and it has made the world of difference to his quality of life. It is worth considering if you have difficulty breathing

  3. my gran had one done for breathing related issues -- she had broken her nose at a young age and when she was 50 or so her doctor suggested she have one to help her with her health

  4. Randomly my father had a Rhinoplasty like 40yrs ago to help with his breathing so it is done for proper medical reasons and made a huge improvement

    Laura x

  5. Really interesting. I never realised that rhinoplasty could be a medical as well as a cosmetic procedure.

  6. It's amazing how one surgery can change lives in so many ways isn't it. One of my friends had rhinoplasty to improve her breathing and she was so pleased with it.