Why is the Nose So Important?

There are many different facial plastic surgery procedures, but the most well-known is rhinoplasty, or nose surgery.  In fact, according to statistics compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 217,000 rhinoplasty procedures were performed in 2014, making it the most frequently performed facial plastic surgery procedure in America.  Although many think that rhinoplasty to alter the size or shape of the nose is only cosmetic, this unappreciated facial feature is actually far more than a simple ornament.  The nose is a highly sophisticated organ that performs a number of vital functions.  Here is some insight into what makes the nose so important.

Why is the Nose So ImportantThe Nose Filters Airflow

The nose is responsible for processing approximately 18,000 to 20,000 liters of air each day, which is filtered, humidified, and warmed before it comes into contact with sensitive lung tissue.  As air enters through the nostrils, it passes over hundreds of tiny hairs that act as filters, capturing pollen, dust, and germs.  The air is then funneled along the nasal turbinates, elongated bony structures, covered with nasal mucosa, that project off the nasal side walls and stretch across the entire nasal airway.  Not only do these structures cause the air to swirl and churn, giving it time to warm and moisten in the nasal cavity, but it also brings the air into contact with mucus that contains infection-fighting enzymes and white blood cells.  Many patients who suffer from restricted airflow as a result of damaged turbinates or a deviated septum can find relief with reconstructive rhinoplasty procedures.

The Nose Detects Smells

The nose is also integral to our senses of smell and taste.  Airborne molecules enter the nose and travel over a patch of olfactory sensors on the ceiling of the nasal cavity.  There they activate finger-like receptors that transmit chemical signals up to a central processor in the brain called the olfactory bulb, which registers the scent.  Humans have approximately 12 million of these olfactory receptor cells, allowing us to detect and recognize thousands of different smells even in extremely small concentrations.  Even minor damage to these delicate structures can affect a patient’s ability to smell and, by extension, taste, which is one of the reasons why cosmetic rhinoplasty procedures should always be performed by a highly experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon.

Every Nose is Unique and Constantly Changing

The nose is a complex and highly specific structure made up of numerous pieces of cartilage and bone, and the combination of differences in these individual pieces can combine to create a truly unique appearance.  Although the overall nasal shape is determined by about the age of ten, the nose continues to grow slowly until about age 15 to 17 in women and about age 17 to 19 in men.  This potential to grow and shift is what makes rhinoplasty on adolescents particularly complex.  Moreover, the nose tends to lengthen and droop over time, due to the effects of gravity and the gradual breakdown of the proteins collagen and elastin in the skin.  As a result, I have found that rhinoplasty to sculpt the tip of the nose can often complement a full facelift procedure and give the patient a more harmoniously youthful overall appearance.

If you are interested in learning more about nose surgery, or about how any of the other facial plastic surgery procedures that I perform may be able to help you, please contact me, Dr. Fernando Burstein.  Additionally, Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. provides a variety of options for financing, including Care Credit®, in order to assist you.  Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.