Plastic Surgery 101

Ways to improve breathing through your nose

Q. I can't breathe. I have a lot of allergies and I keep sniffing through my nose. It seems that I can't breathe from one side. I don't want to have a nose job. Is there anything I can do to fix my nose that does not involve changing the way it looks?

A. Absolutely! There are many types of nose surgeries that people can undergo. There is the rhinoplasty, which is the correction of the external part of the nose so that the nose is aesthetically more pleasing. There is the Septo rhinoplasty, which involves operating on the bones and cartilage inside your nose. This makes the nose look better and you breathe better as well.

You may have turbinate work, which will reduce the size of the turbinates in the nose. The turbinates are three structures on either side of your nose which filters the air going in your nose. The turbinates may be cauterized (burned), out fractured (push to the lateral part of your nose), or resected (cut out).

The operation that will likely help you breathe and not change your appearance is the septoplasty with turbinate cauterization. The septoplasty involves correcting a deviated septum. A deviated septum consists of either bone or cartilage that is impinging on the airway. This surgery is done as an outpatient procedure. The operation generally takes approximately 40 minutes to one hour.

There is minimal pain associated with this operation. You go home with no external bruises (usually). Some patients require packing while others require no packing. Usually the packing is removed within a week. You may return to work within a week and start full exercise by one month. Potential complications of this surgery includes incomplete ability to breathe, bleeding and an infection. This operation generally is well tolerated and patients are usually very happy with the results.

Dr. Carlos Wolf is a partner in Miami Plastic Surgery and is board certified. Email your questions to him at