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Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure used to shape nasal elements (bone structures, cartilage, and skin). It can be performed if the nose is damaged in mechanical trauma, for congenital defects, and for aesthetic reasons. Every surgical operation carries risks, and rhinoplasty is no exception. Here, we review possible complications of rhinoplasty.


Swelling is a very common side effect of almost every surgical procedure. It is a result of inflammatory processes caused by tissue damage. Swelling has a protective effect initially, but if it is over-pronounced, it can cause further damage to the tissue. Sometimes swelling persists longer than expected, in which case you should contact your doctor for advice on how to reduce it. Swelling after rhinoplasty can be particularly disturbing, because it can affect breathing and evacuation of nasal mucus.


Infection after rhinoplasty is rare, but it can occur. The first signs of infection are swelling, increased pain, redness of the skin and pus around the stitches. A person may sense a really bad smell in their nose as a result of infection and the release of bacterial toxins. In this case, local and systemic administration of antibiotics is recommended. An infection can worsen the outcomes of surgical procedures and prolong the recovery period. Good hygiene and regular wound dressing is necessary to prevent the occurrence of infection.

Postoperative Deformities

Even if everything is done perfectly, results of rhinoplasty can still be unsatisfying due to postoperative deformities. Namely, excessive swelling or infection can cause tissue damage and scarring. This may require multiple procedures to restore the defects.

Scar Formation

Plastic surgeons are the experts on how to perform procedures with minimal scar formation. This is especially important in rhinoplasty, as the modifications are done to prominent and visible structures. Some people tend to form bigger scars than others. The most severe form is formation of keloids - big, irregularly shaped scars that can look really bad and require multiple rhinoplasty revisions.

Smell problems

Loss of sense of smell is not often reported, although it can occur if olfactory structures are damaged by the procedure or postoperative complications. If rhinoplasty is performed to overcome some congenital defects, sense of smell is often significantly improved after recovery.


Numbness of the nasal area right after rhinoplasty is nothing to worry about. It happens due to swelling and "confused" nerve endings because of physical trauma. However, if numbness persists after the full recovery, you should contact your doctor and perform additional tests.

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