Functional Rhinoplasty

Functional Rhinoplasty Seattle | Sinusitis In Seattle

Most people consider a rhinoplasty—or nose job—a purely cosmetic surgery. However, there are circumstances where a rhinoplasty addresses the function of the nose instead of or in addition to the appearance. When breathing obstruction goes beyond a deviated septum or is not primarily due to the sinuses, a functional rhinoplasty may be the recommended procedure to restore proper breathing and function. Dr. David Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle is an accomplished otolaryngologist and facial plastic surgeon who provides the best function rhinoplasty Seattle, Burien, and Renton provides.

Overview: Functional Rhinoplasty Surgery

Functional rhinoplasty surgery is a form of nose surgery that helps resolve breathing problems. The overall goal is to alter the internal and/or external structures of the nose to make it easier to breathe. A functional rhinoplasty can address nasal obstruction due to trauma, congenital problems, or other causes of nasal obstruction.

The anatomical issues that a function rhinoplasty aims to fix can cause or worsen several other problems such as chronic sinusitis, inflammation, allergies, and sleep apnea. While the procedure may not completely solve these other conditions, it may help reduce the severity of symptoms.

Problems It May Address

Functional rhinoplasty does not necessarily look the same for every person. For example, a patient undergoing the surgery due to previous trauma to the nose and one due to a deviated septum may have different surgical experiences and procedures performed. Some of the common problems that a functional nose surgery may address can include:

  • Deviated septum
  • Collapsed nasal valve
  • Trauma to the nose
  • Internal deformities
  • Narrow airways
  • Crooked nose
  • Nasal hump
  • Broken nose

The procedure does not usually involve the sinuses and most sinus surgeries are performed separately. The exact issues your functional rhinoplasty will address depend on the anatomy of your nose.

Benefits & Risks

A medically necessary rhinoplasty does come with benefits and risks. While most of the time the risks outweigh the benefits, this is not the case for every patient. Dr. Santos will help you evaluate your individual risks and benefits during a consultation and initial appointments.

First, let’s look at the possible benefits which can include:

  • Easier breathing
  • Wider nasal passages
  • Correct an unwanted nasal hump
  • Promote better nasal function
  • Elevate the nasal tip
  • Create a straighter nose
  • Correct a deviated septum or septum abnormalities
  • Address trauma or breaks of the nose
  • Create better support for the nose
  • Improvement in quality of life
  • Long lasting results
  • Possible reduction in sinus symptoms
  • Outpatient procedure
  • Performed by an accomplished otolaryngologist and facial plastic surgeon

The risks of the procedure are similar to those of a sinus surgery or cosmetic nose job. Risks or possible complications may include:

  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Little to no improvement in breathing or sinus issues
  • Unpleasing aesthetic result
  • Prolonged side effects
  • Scarring
  • Complications associated with general anesthesia

Major complications during or after functional rhinoplasty surgery are rare, especially when choosing a double board-certified surgeon with decades of experience like Dr. Santos.

Functional Nose Job From Start To Finish


During a consultation with Dr. Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle, he will want to know about your history of breathing or sinus problems. Dr. Santos may also ask about any other procedures or treatments you have done to try and address them and your goals for surgery. He may also ask about previous injuries or trauma. Dr. Santos may also need to know about other aspects of your medical history and lifestyle, so he can recommend the best treatment.

Finally, Dr. Santos will physically examine the nose. He may also order imaging to better visualize the internal anatomy and structure of the nose. Most of this imaging can be done at Sinusitis In Seattle. Once he understands the full scope of your issues and goals, he can determine if a functional rhinoplasty is the right procedure for you.


Most functional rhinoplasties in Seattle are performed under general anesthesia. Once you are anesthetized, Dr. Santos will make an incision under your nose. Usually, a functional nose job uses the open rhinoplasty method also used for some cosmetic nose surgeries. The exact length and location of the incision may vary depending on your needs.

Dr. Santos will correct shape abnormalities to widen the airways and promote better breathing. This could include fixing a deviated septum or adding more support to the nose by using cartilage from your ear or rib. Not all functional rhinoplasties will necessitate this. 

When Dr. Santos finishes, he will stitch the nose back into its proper position. The incision is usually along the underside of the nose where the nose and skin of the upper lip meet. Thus, it is generally hidden from view when looking straight on.


Recovering from a functional nose job is similar to a cosmetic one. While the instructions can vary depending on the specifics of the procedure, some of the common aftercare and recovery directions include:

  • Take at least one week off work
  • Replace dressings as needed
  • Stick to a liquid diet for a few days
  • Do not blow your nose for two weeks
  • Avoid any strenuous activities or exercise for at least two weeks
  • Full exercise should not resume for around four to six weeks
  • Attend post-operative appointments
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take medication as prescribed
  • Utilize cold compresses for swelling in the first two days (if needed)
  • Do not lift over five pounds
  • Avoid applying makeup for at least seven to ten days
  • Do not unnecessarily touch or massage the nose

You may or may not have internal and/or external splits for the first week following surgery. Dr. Santos may prescribe pain medication, nasal spray, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medication depending on your procedure and the specifics. Not all patients will necessarily receive the same prescriptions or aftercare instructions.

Does A Functional Rhinoplasty Change The Shape Of Your Nose?

A functional rhinoplasty can change the shape of your nose, but it does not always. Sometimes for the proper structural changes to be made external changes are necessary. Other times they are simply an effect of the changes. If you have a cosmetic change you want and it is conducive to the procedure, Dr. Santos can likely make it.

For example, unwanted humps and bumps, crookedness, or the overall shape of the nose can often be addressed during a functional rhinoplasty. Since Dr. Santos is also a board-certified otolaryngologist and facial plastic surgeon, he is among the most qualified to address cosmetic and medical enhancements.

Will The Surgery Require Breaking My Nose?

Potentially, but is difficult to know without a consultation. In cases where the nose is crooked due to trauma or a previous break, there is an increased chance of needing to perform an osteotomy. An osteotomy refers to the surgical breaking of the nose. Dr. Santos will inform you if this is part of the recommended surgical plan.

What Can I Expect From Scarring?

Scars from a functional rhinoplasty tend to heal well and remain hidden in the function between the nose and lip. However, if you are prone to poor healing or raised scars, you should discuss this with Dr. Santos. Usually, rhinoplasty scars fade significantly within two years of surgery, but every patient heals differently. Also, as a plastic surgeon, Dr. Santos knows how to minimize scarring as much as possible.

It is rare for a functional rhinoplasty to not use the open rhinoplasty technique which would result in less scarring. If scarring is a major concern for you, you can ask Dr. Santos about other possible surgical techniques. Though, it should be noted that patients generally heal well after rhinoplasty. Scarring often becomes faint for non-smoking, otherwise healthy individuals.

Is Functional Rhinoplasty Covered By Insurance?

Medical insurance will sometimes cover rhinoplasty for medical reasons. This is highly variable based on the company and your specific plan. Before undergoing surgery, you should reach out to your insurance if you plan to use it to cover your treatment. You can also use outside financing.

Can A Functional Rhinoplasty Correct A Deviated Septum?

Yes, if you have a deviated septum, Dr. Santos will correct this during a functional rhinoplasty. A septoplasty is surgery often used to fix a deviated septum. In cases where there are more extensive structural issues, Dr. Santos may recommend a functional rhinoplasty over septoplasty.

The Best Functional Rhinoplasty In Seattle With Dr. David Santos

Dr. David Santos is an accomplished Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist with board certifications in otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery. This makes him uniquely qualified to perform non-invasive sinus surgery. Dr. Santos has three decades of experience treating sinusitis of all types and performing sinus surgery. Sinusitis In Seattle offers the best functional rhinoplasty Seattle, Burien, and Renton performs.

Dr. Santos’ qualifications in both the medical and cosmetic forms of nose surgery, make him uniquely qualified for functional rhinoplasty. Dr. Santos works to ensure that both form and function of the nose are as ideal as possible and match your goals whenever possible.

Offering premier surgical and non-surgical treatment of sinus problems, Sinusitis In Seattle is the top destination for the best ENT Seattle offers. To learn more about acute sinusitis and to schedule a consultation, call us at (206) 242-3696 or contact us online.

Contact Us