Rhinoplasty to Restore Sense of Smell

Can having nose surgery restore my sense of smell?

When it comes to an appreciation of our physical senses, sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, the one that is often underrated is smell. Most of us would list sight as the one we would most not wish to lose and, rightly so, since it plays such a major role in our experience of the world around us. The other senses will, no doubt, be more important to some and less so to others.

Our sense of smell is often not adequately appreciated until it is no longer working properly. Once that happens, we realize what a major role it plays in our daily lives. Our sense of smell is intricately tied to our interaction with our environment. This includes not only our ability to taste and enjoy food and other pleasure-inducing aromas, like the fragrance of flowers and fresh-cut grass, but also being warned of potential dangers, such as smoke or leaking gas. Although some people resign themselves to just dealing with the loss, many seek rhinoplasty in order to regain this very important sensory function.

Chronic sinusitis, also known as chronic rhinosinusitis, is a common condition in which the cavities around the sinuses become inflamed and swollen for an extended period of time. Usually the cause is related to infection, nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum. Sometimes head trauma or environmental factors can play a part. Certain occupations, like construction, hair and nail salon employees, janitorial and other cleaning professions or, basically, all that involve breathing toxic substances without adequate ventilation are susceptible.

For sinusitis to be considered chronic, rather than a temporary infection that may be connected with a having a cold, two or more of the following primary signs should be present:

  • Thick, discolored nasal discharge and/or postnasal drainage
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to constant nasal obstruction or congestion
  • Swelling, causing pain and tenderness and around the eyes, nose, cheeks and forehead
  • Loss or reduced sense of smell and taste

Depending upon the cause of the problem, various non-surgical methods may be effective. Some of these are saline nasal irrigation, nasal corticosteroids, oral or injected corticosteroids, aspirin desensitization treatment, antibiotics and allergy shots. If the underlying cause is structural, like a deviated septum, surgery is an option to consider.   

The surgical procedure to repair a deviated nasal septum and, consequently, restore the ability to breathe properly and, with that, the patient’s sense of smell, is called septoplasty. Normally done by a rhinoplasty surgeon as an outpatient procedure, the nasal septum, which is the dividing wall that runs down the middle of the nose, is straightened and repositioned so that there are no longer blockages. Once any swelling associated with the surgery has gone down, there is a very good chance that the patient’s sense of smell will be as good as new.

In the past, the loss of the sense of smell was, more often than not, believed to be something that just had to be accepted. Some were able to do that better than others. Today, however, that does not have to be the case. Consulting with an experienced surgeon, like Dr. Geoffrey Tobias, could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Board certified, highly skilled and dedicated, Dr. Tobias was recognized 12 times as “best in his field” by New York Magazine. His most important recognition was his election as a president to The Rhinoplasty Society in 2015. This group of internationally recognized academic surgeons is dedicated to research, teaching, and developing new cutting-edge techniques in the field of rhinoplasty. Request a consultation with Dr. Tobias by simply clicking here.  

Posted in: Rhinoplasty

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