Will Rhinoplasty Fix Breathing Problem?

My nostril passage is too narrow. I have had breathing problems ever since I can remember. This keeps me from being active, specially working out. Could a procedure like Rhinoplasty fix the problem?

Doctor Answers 15

Breathing improved with rhinoplasty

Yes, rhinoplasty can help improve your breathing ability by creating a less obstructed nasal passage.  

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 179 reviews

Rhinoplasty is done for cosmetic purposes

A rhinoplasty is performed only for cosmetic nasal procedures. A septoplasty is performed for breathing issues out of the nose. A septoplasty and a rhinoplasty can be performed together if both cosmetic and breathing issues need to be addressed at the same time. Typically, the rhinoplasty is paid for by the patient and the septoplasty is billed to the insurance carrier the patient has.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

Rhinoplasty to Improve Breathing

Thank you for your question. Sometimes certain breathing problems related to the internal nasal structures can be corrected at the same time as nose reshaping is performed. Your plastic surgeon will be able to help you determine whether these structures should be modified along with reshaping your nose. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 
Double board certified
Plastic surgeon
Hoffman Estates

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Rhinoplasty Should Produce a Nose That Looks Good & Functions Well.

The goal of nose reshaping surgery is produce a nose that both looks good and functions well. If performed correctly by an experience surgeon who specializes in nose surgery, neither breathing nor appearance should have to be sacrificed for the sake of the other.

Rhinoplasty -- or nose job surgery -- is a surgical procedure that involves reshaping the nose. Rhinoplasty is accomplished by removing excess bone and cartilage from beneath the skin covering the nose. In some cases, cartilage grafts are added to help reshape the nasal framework. After alteration of the supporting structures, the skin is repositioned over the newly shaped framework to give the nose its new appearance. The changes may be subtle or dramatic, depending on the needs of the patient.

Surgically correctable causes of nasal obstruction include:

  • Deviated septum (crooked septum)
  • Internal Valve Collapse (collapse of middle portion of the bridge)
  • External Valve Collapse (nostril wall collapse)
  • Inferior Turbinate Hypertrophy (enlargement of lower turbinates)

These causes of nasal obstruction are frequently corrected with techniques such as a septoplasty, spreader grafts, tip reconstruction, and reduction of inferior turbinates. These techniques and procedures are combined with a rhinoplasty to improve both the function and appearance.

C. Spencer Cochran, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 147 reviews

Breathing and rhinoplasty

A narrow nose can certainly have breathing problems. Breathing problems can be multifactorial. Two that can be treated with rhinoplasty alone are related to septal deviations and enlarged turbinates. These can be examined on physical exam. Sometimes sinuses can affect the breathing as well and a good history and physical exam should be obtained.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

How to fix breathing problems caused by a narrow nose

Yes, having a narrow nose can cause breathing problems. You have two "valves" that affect the inflow of air to your nose. One is called the external nasal valves and these are basically the openings of your nostrils. The other valves are the internal nasal valves and these are formed by the middle cartilage of your nose known as your septum and the cartilage on the sides of your nose known as the upper lateral cartilages. The internal nasal valve has a certain degree of opening, and when it's less than 10-15 degrees you can have difficulty breathing. Also, if your nostrils are small and your they collapse when you breath in you may have breathing difficulties. To fix both of these problems, you may need some cartilage put in to stabilize your nostrils and make the degree of your internal nasal valve bigger. These procedures are done under sedation or general anesthesia, and the results are usually very good. Good luck and I hope your breathing improves!

Jeffrey E. Schreiber, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 202 reviews

Form and function

Form and function often go hand in hand when treating the nose. However, improvements in nasal breathing can often be achieved without altering the appearance of the nose and, conversely, a nose can often be improved aesthetically without correcting nasal function.

Because of the complex interplay between nasal form and nasal function, it makes a lot of sense to see someone specialized in the nose in all its aspects. This includes not only the anatomy and structure of the nose, but also its physiology and pathology. Septal deviations, polyps, conchae bullosa, turbinate hypertrophy, vasomotor and allergic rhinitis, and even sinusitis are common causes of nasal obstruction that may also be playing a role.

Otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose & Throat surgeons) are particularly specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of functional problems with the nose as well as its anatomic issues. If you're also thinking about changing the appearance of the nose, you may want to consult with someone board-certified in both otorhinolaryngology and facial plastic surgery. (Of course, I'm a bit biased here since that describes my background, too. But it doesn't make it less true). ;-)

All the best,


David C. Pearson, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

You should get your nasal blockage properly diagnosed.

Rhinoplasty is surgery to change the appearance and sometimes the funstion of your nose. You mentioned that your nasal passage is too narrow, but you need a more specific diagnosis. You should start with an ENT Consultation, or a dual-certified ENT and facial plastic surgeon.

You should choose the later if you're not happy with the appearance of your nose. If your nose looks good, but is always stuffy, go to a board certified ENT.

Best regards.

Eric M. Joseph, MD
West Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 421 reviews

Septoplasty will help breathing problem

You most likely have a deviated septum and possibly large turbinates (glands inside the nose that swell up during congestion).

It is very unlikely that narrow nostrils alone are causing you difficulty in breathing. You should see an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose & Throat doctor) to assess the inside of your nose.

Rhinoplasty strictly deals with the shape of your nose and not with breathing issues.

Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 105 reviews

A well-done Rhinoplasty should help

A Rhinoplasty should address both the cosmetic and functional issues with your nose.

If you are having trouble breathing through your nose, it may be due to a problem in the septum, turbinates or combination of the above.

An experienced plastic surgeon will know how to evaluate your nose and determine which are the problems causing your difficulty. They should then be able to explain to you what procedures they would do to fix it.

John Diaz, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.