Cosmetic Breathing

Lung health and lung function are vital components of daily activity and quality of life and optimizations to nasal structure can allow for easy, natural breathing.

Medically Reviewed by William A. Kennedy III, MDLast Reviewed 08.21.2020
Last Updated 08.23.2020

The Skinny

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.

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 (1), cosmetic procedures performed by board certified plastic surgeons may be able to correct breathing concerns related to the nasal structure.

The Specifics

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.

As it relates to the nose itself, the following concerns (read our complete guide to cosmetic breathing 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.

Alarplasty

  • Overview: For patients who need to address the symmetry or size of their nostrils, the procedure removes a portion of skin between the nose and cheek (either alone or in conjunction with a rhinoplasty) to adjust the size and shape.
  • Cost: $6,000 - $7,000
  • Recovery & Results: Results are permanent and recovery occurs within one month when the procedure is performed alone.

Open Rhinoplasty

  • Overview: In this technique, external incisions are created to allow the skin to be retracted and the full bone and cartilage to be visualized.
  • Cost: $3,000 - $15,000
  • Recovery & Results: While most activity can be resumed within six weeks, the nose will continue to heal over about 18 months.

Closed Rhinoplasty

  • Overview: Unlike its open counterpart, incisions in a closed procedure are made inside the nose to access the internal structures, which may limit the cosmetic effects of the procedure.
  • Cost: $3,000 - $15,000
  • Recovery & Results: Most activity can be resumed within six weeks. The results are permanent and evolve over one to two years post-op.

Endoscopic Rhinoplasty

  • Overview: Similar to a closed procedure thanks to its internal incisions, this technique employs a lighted camera to further visualize the nasal structure.
  • Cost: $3,000 - $15,000
  • Recovery & Results: Recovery times and results are consistent with those of a closed rhinoplasty.

Revision Rhinoplasty

  • Overview: If breathing problems occurred as the result of a previous cosmetic procedure, a revision surgery may be needed to correct the damage.
  • Cost: $8,000 - $20,000
  • Recovery & Results: Swelling and pain typically resolve within two weeks, and the permanent results take about a year to heal.

Youth/Teen Rhinoplasty

  • Overview: Refers to open or closed rhinoplasties performed on individuals under the age of 18.
  • Cost: $3,000 - $15,000
  • Recovery & Results: While the recovery and results are dependent on which rhinoplasty technique is chosen, teen nose jobs often require revision procedures later in life for further refinement.

Septorhinoplasty

  • Overview: The surgery, which is used to alter nasal bones and cartilage of the septum, involves clearing obstructed airways by straightening the septum and evaluating the blocked nasal structure to remove any impediments. When combined with a rhinoplasty, the dual surgery is known as a septorhinoplasty.
  • Cost: $6,000 - $10,000
  • Recovery & Results: Patients enjoy permanent results and full recovery within one year, with bruising resolving and most activities resuming within three weeks.

The Takeaway

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 (2). 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.

Source List

(1) “Lung Diseases.” American Lung Association, 2019. (2) Harvard Health Publishing. “Relaxation Techniques: Breath Control Helps Quell Errant Stress Response.” Harvard Health, 13 Apr. 2018,

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Different Types of Cosmetic Breathing

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