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What is a Nose Job?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jan 25, 2024
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A nose job is the more common used term for rhinoplasty, a type of plastic surgery that either repairs or changes the look of the nose. A nose job is actually an ancient surgery, first practiced in India about 2500 years ago. Early rhinoplasty was an attempt to rebuild nose structure for people who had been sentenced to nose amputation as a form of criminal punishment. The early rhinoplasty techniques for nasal reconstruction remain virtually unchanged, though certainly operating conditions, more precise instruments, and better anesthesia exist today.

People may get a nose job for a variety of reasons. Some people get one after a bad break to the nose has healed improperly, resulting in a crooked or broken nose look. Congenital defects of the nose are another common reason people might seek the surgery. In particular, people with breathing problems due to a deviated septum may benefit from a rhinoplasty that corrects nasal septal defects and results in easier breathing. Another common reason for having the surgery is principally aesthetic. When a person doesn’t like the shape or size of his/her nose, he/she may seek a rhinoplasty to change its appearance. Aesthetics may be combined with necessity if damage to the nose exists and a person would also like a different looking nose.

Two principal surgical techniques exist for rhinoplasty. One technique works from inside the nostrils, and the other makes small incisions across the nostrils in order to get to the nasal bone and cartilage. In both cases the nasal bone is usually broken, so that the bone can be set accordingly. Pieces of bone and cartilage can also be removed and shaped in order to lengthen a nose, shorten it, or narrow or widen the nostrils. Angle of the nose can also be reshaped in a nose job. Surgeons may use prosthetic devices in addition to a patient’s own cartilage in order to get the desired “look” meant to be achieved by the procedure.

When the second procedure is used, the small incisions on the outside of the nose can result in minimal scarring. Working from inside the nostrils produces very little scarring. Patients usually have general anesthesia during a nose job, although a recent trend is to use local anesthesia or conscious sedation. Recovery time from the surgery involves a few days of rest time. The actual look of the nose may be highly unfavorable at first, since bruising and swelling exists on the nose and under the eyes. Swelling and bruising can persist for several months, especially at the nose tip, but when the nose is finally healed, it is hoped the procedure looks like the patient wished it to.

There are some notoriously bad examples of the nose job in Hollywood. These can result from creating a look so drastic the person is barely recognizable. Jennifer Grey, from the film Dirty Dancing, significantly altered her look by getting a nose job. In fact, most people couldn’t recognize her, and she got fewer jobs as a result of her surgery. Some entertainers have had repeated operations, which can make it appear as though there is very little nose left. This has been the case with people like La Toya Jackson, and her brother Michael.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By AshleyHarper — On Feb 27, 2014

Rhinoplasty is definitely one of the most popular kind of facial plastic surgery. Because even a small change in he structure of your nose can change the way you look, people opt more for nose jobs. And in case if your nose job has gone wrong you still don't have to worry. Because you have revision rhinoplsaty to correct it. I know some doctors who have corrected many disastrous nose jobs with revision Rhinoplasty.

By discographer — On Sep 01, 2012

@orangey03-- Yea, sometimes people get nose jobs for no reason. But sometimes, it really is necessary, and if the surgery is done right, it looks beautiful.

I love Ashley Simpson's nose job. She was pretty before but I think she is absolutely gorgeous now.

Does anyone know if Beyonce got a nose job too?

By serenesurface — On Sep 01, 2012

@orangey-- I'm not against cosmetic nose job surgery. But I think if you're a celebrity or if you're planning on entering the entertainment business, you should have the surgery done early on before you are actually famous.

Because if the audience loves you, they will accept you and become familiar with you the way you are then. It's not easy for the audience to accept dramatic changes in the physical appearance of their favorite star.

That's why people like Jennifer Grey lose popularity after getting a nose job. Because people had already accepted her the way she was before.

By bear78 — On Aug 31, 2012

@Perdido-- My brother had the same surgery but he had it when it was young.

My brother's nose was literally clogged from the bone and the tissue. Not only did he have difficulty breathing but he sounded really odd when he spoke.

After he had the surgery, which was in middle school, he could breathe through his nose and he sounded very different when he spoke.

He is also very happy about the surgery. I don't agree with people getting nose jobs when there is absolutely nothing wrong with their nose medically. But when there is a problem, it's necessary.

By orangey03 — On Aug 31, 2012

I looked at some celebrity nose job before and after photos, and in most cases, I thought that they looked better before the surgery. Having a unique nose gives a person their own look, and altering that to make the nose look like a standard one from a catalog takes away that unique look.

Some celebrities really were pretty even before their nose jobs. They might have had one little bump in their noses or noses that were just a touch wider than average. However, after they had them altered, they looked like different people, and that isn't always a good thing.

By feasting — On Aug 31, 2012

@StarJo – It depends on where you go, but I think the average cosmetic surgery nose job costs around $5,000. My parents had looked into this for me, because large noses run in our family, and I desperately wanted a nose job as a teenager.

I don't know if they were actually considering letting me get one or if they just wanted to give me a reason why I couldn't get one. After they told me how much it would cost, I knew that there was no way we could afford it.

It's a bad idea to get a nose job as a teenager, anyway. Your face isn't finished growing, and at that age, your nose might seem bigger because the surrounding area hasn't caught up with it yet. Now that I'm an adult, my nose looks much more natural, because my face is fully formed.

By StarJo — On Aug 30, 2012

How much does a nose job cost? I have a very large nose that just doesn't fit the rest of my face, and I would love to have it altered. I'm sure I would have to save up for awhile, but I'd like to know if the goal is attainable.

By Perdido — On Aug 30, 2012

My aunt had a nose job to fix her deviated septum. She had trouble breathing through her nose, so the surgeon straightened it out for her.

He actually cut the tissue inside her nose so that he could straighten up the bone. After he had done this, he put the tissue back on top of the bone.

I saw some of her post-nose-job pictures, and they weren't pretty. It took months for her bruises and swelling to go away, and at first, she wondered if she would ever breathe through her nose again.

Now, she says that having this surgery was the best decision she ever made. She is free from breathing issues, and it was worth the pain of the recovery period.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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