Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. This simple action is mindless for most people, and yet without it we cannot survive. Daily activity and quality of life all depend on healthy lungs receiving enough oxygen. Because the nose is the first organ in the respiratory system, its ability or inability to begin the process of transferring oxygen to the lungs is of the utmost importance. Structural abnormalities in the nasal cavity (think: a deviated septum) can cause patients shortness of breath, which, in turn, necessitates pursed lip breathing or abdominal breathing (a.k.a. belly breathing) that causes increases in carbon dioxide and decreases in oxygen levels not unlike lung conditions like chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (check out our complete guide to Breathing Concerns).
While cardio and pulmonary conditions may require treatment plans like pulmonary rehabilitation and breathing exercises to improve the amount of air inhaled and oxygen exchanged, cosmetic procedures performed by board certified plastic surgeons may be able to correct breathing concerns related to the nasal structure.
Who needs a cosmetic procedure to improve breathing?
Once serious underlying medical conditions have been ruled out and structural abnormalities in the shape of the nose and size of the nose have been identified, a cosmetic surgery procedure can be considered to correct anatomy and improve breathing. An individual in otherwise good health can speak with a surgeon to determine which procedure is most appropriate and aesthetic alterations to nose shape and size can also be discussed.
The Anatomy of the Nose
As it relates to the nose itself, the following concerns could lead to breathing issues:
- Deviated Septum: The common condition occurs when the cartilaginous “wall” separating the two nostrils “deviates” to one side or the other, constricting the nostrils and can vary in severity.
- Nasal Structure: The size and shape of the nose and nostrils contribute to the overall structure of the nose. While such factors are genetically predetermined, they can be altered by injury (think: broken bones), age, or medical conditions like nasal polyps that may impact breathing.
- Nostril Size: The size of the nostrils is determined by the shape of the nose and the size of the septum. Nostrils considered to be too large may become an aesthetic concern, while nostrils that are too small can cause breathing difficulty secondary to reduced air flow.
All three concerns can be corrected to help improve the quality of breathing with cosmetic procedures.
What can you expect from a procedure that improves breathing?
Candidates who pursue a cosmetic procedure to improve respiration can expect noticeable improvements in their daily activities and quality of life. Because such improvements require surgeries like rhinoplasty (for nose structure), alarplasty (for nostril shape and size), and septoplasty (to correct a deviated septum), patients may experience immediate side effects like bruising, numbness, and pain. Depending on the technique used, full recovery may take up to 18 months, but the results will be permanent and impactful.
When should you consider a procedure to improve breathing?
After it is determined breathing issues are secondary to structural issues and not underlying disease, any candidate in good health who can commit to the needed recovery time should seek consultation with a board certified cosmetic surgeon.
Teens who are experiencing breathing issues as a result of the nose, nostrils, or septum may consider undergoing a corrective procedure. It is important to note, however, that girls’ noses generally aren’t considered fully formed until one year after menses (around 15 years old), while boys are usually considered fully grown one year after their last noted growth spurt (around 18 years old). Parental consent and the judgement of a board certified surgeon will be required to determine if such patients are mature enough.
Why should you consider a procedure to improve breathing?
If daily activities are impacted by feeling breathing is difficult or forced then it is reasonable to pursue consultation with a professional. Candidates who undergo a procedure can expect noticeable results with improvements in quality of life and overall health. Additionally, these corrective cosmetic procedures can improve the appearance of the nose.
Cosmetic Solutions to Improve Breathing
Whether a patient's breathing issues stem from the size or shape of the nose and nostrils or a deviated septum, there are reconstructive and cosmetic surgery — including rhinoplasty, alarplasty, and septoplasty — that can improve breathing (by accessing and altering the internal nasal structure), while also amending the aesthetic appearance of the nose.
Conscious breathing and breath control allow individuals to actively participate in normal activities and improve their quality of life. Additionally, stress-reducing breathing techniques are touted for their ability to activate the nervous system to relax our bodies. With this in mind, inhaling and exhaling should be as comfortable and natural as possible. Fortunately, better breathing is possible for those with nasal structure abnormalities thanks to cosmetic surgery procedures that improve air flow.