Open and Closed Rhinoplasty: What’s the Difference?

Learn about rhinoplasty from Columbia, MO, plastic surgeon, Dr. Seaberg.

“Open” and “closed” rhinoplasty – they’re terms you’ve probably heard a lot, especially if you’ve been researching nose surgery. If you’re curious about the differences between these approaches and whether it really matters from a patient perspective, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a common topic I cover during rhinoplasty consultations here in Columbia.

Here’s an overview of why I will choose one approach over the other, as well as the ideal candidate for each.

Open Rhinoplasty

This approach requires an incision along the width of the columella, the narrow strip of skin that separates the nostrils. By using an incision on the exterior of the nose, open rhinoplasty allows me to have full access to the structures within the nose.

As you can imagine, an open rhinoplasty also allows me to fully visualize these structures. Open rhinoplasty ensures precision and accuracy, even in very complex cases. Often, open rhinoplasty is necessary when more complex improvements are called for, such as changing the projection of a nose. Although open rhinoplasty does use an external incision, the resulting scar is quite small. It’s also located in such an inconspicuous area of the nose that it’s hardly noticeable once fully healed.

Closed Rhinoplasty

During a closed rhinoplasty, I make incisions that are hidden completely within the nose. It has 2 major advantages that many patients find appealing: There’s no visible scar, and there’s a (marginally) quicker recuperation period.

Because closed rhinoplasty doesn’t offer as much access or surgical control as open rhinoplasty, it’s the better approach only for patients who require more minor or straightforward changes. In a previous blog post, I reviewed a few of the ways rhinoplasty can improve your profile. Those techniques sometimes depend on an open rhinoplasty, but in some cases, a closed rhinoplasty can also work.

The best way to determine the right approach for you is to see a board-certified plastic surgeon for an in-person consultation. The structure of your nose, along with the end result you really want, are the 2 factors that should guide your surgeon to either an open or closed procedure.

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John J. Seaberg, MD, FACS