FAQ: What rhinoplasty risks can I expect?

rhinoplasty risks

Rhinoplasty is one of the UK’s most frequently performed cosmetic surgery ops. As with any surgical procedure, you must be aware of the risks to make a fully informed decision, and there is often misleading information online.

A 2021 UK study published in Facial Plastic Surgery focused on the quality of online patient information for patients considering rhinoplasty. Only 22% contained balanced information on the risks. Two percent mentioned complication rates, and just 20% suggested that further surgery may be required to achieve patient satisfaction.

So, how safe is the rhinoplasty procedure?

Rhinoplasty risks explained


“It isn’t necessarily a risk, but one of the most critical considerations patients must be aware of is that there will be significant post-operative swelling. The nose is the central feature of the face, so it’s something patients can be very conscious of. The nose is also particularly prone to swelling,” rhinology expert Mr Annakan Navaratnam explains.

“It isn’t a linear process as some days it can be worse than others or more noticeable on one side. It can take at least six months for swelling to dissipate fully and the final results to become evident.”


Immediately after rhinoplasty, you may experience some light bleeding for a short duration. Significant bleeding is uncommon, and you must seek medical advice from your surgeon.


A rare complication after rhinoplasty but it must be treated promptly. It can present as swelling, redness and discharge and cause sinusitis.

Airway issues

Swelling, nasal packs, or internal splits can cause airway obstruction in the immediate period after surgery. This should subside within a few weeks, but if it persists, your surgeon may need to assess it to ensure that it is not caused by the rhinoplasty operation.

Loss of sense of smell

This is typically temporary and accompanied by a loss of taste, but it should resolve itself as the internal swelling of the nasal lining subsides.


Some mild asymmetry is inevitable. A perfectly symmetrical nose is very difficult to achieve and also unnatural. If irregularities occur, refinement surgery may be considered.


“A closed rhinoplasty means no scarring, but if we are addressing the internal structures of the nose or making a significant change to the shape of the nose, an open approach is often required.

“However, even with an open rhinoplasty, the scar should be well hidden and not noticeable when fully healed. I’m very meticulous about how the incision is closed, and there are topical applications which can aid in healing.”

Rare rhinoplasty risks

“There are also some incredibly rare risks, such as injury between the bone between the brain and nose causing a Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak or perforation of the septum.

“My expertise in septorhinoplasty and nose reshaping surgery and my experience as part of the Craniofacial team at UCLH in the management of complex craniofacial presentations means I am excellently placed to manage any serious complications.”

During your consultation, Mr Annakan Navaratnam will discuss specific rhinoplasty risks further so you’re fully informed before you decide to proceed.