Guide to nose job (Rhinoplasty) in Singapore: what it takes, costs, recovery
Going for a nose job – also known as rhinoplasty – in Singapore is getting more commonplace than ever. Many of us Asian women always complain we have flatter nose bridges and wider nostrils compared to our Caucasian girl friends.Why can’t I have a sharper nose bridge? If only my nose is just a bit higher and more defined…
Like it or not, our nose is one of the main bone structures of our face and can make a huge difference in influencing the general proportion and shape of our face. A overly large or crooked nose can really throw the entire face off balance and definitely goes against conventional beauty standards. From regal, feminine, defined, cute, fleshy Greek, Roman to snubby – we use a whole spectrum of colourful adjectives to describe noses.
It’s no wonder we have such an obsession with improving our noses – after all, even the most gorgeous of celebrities like Natalie Portman and Blake Lively have allegedly underwent some form of rhinoplasty to give their noses a lift. The Gossip Girl star (below) has purportedly underwent rhinoplasty and her perfect, well-defined nose is now highly modelled after in rhinoplasty surgeries.
Nose fillers and threadlifts are less invasive procedures and they are suitable for you if you want to do slight and minimal corrections, for example, adjustments to the nose bridge and nose tip. A nose job, on the other hand, is the solution for structural changes of the entire nose that involves reshaping or resizing of the nose, including the width and length of the nose.
“What is a nose job?”
A nose job – or plastic surgery of the nose – can largely be categorised into reconstructive and corrective rhinoplasty.  Reconstructive rhinoplasty can help with problems such as broken nose, birth defects and sinus/breathing issues. Corrective rhinoplasty, on the other hand, is a highly customised and individualised procedure which also requires artistic skills on the surgeon’s part to sculpt and augment a nose that is in perfect proportions to a given face.
It’s typically done to achieve: a sharper nose tip, higher nose bridge, slimmer nose flares and/or a smaller general nose width to result in a more defined nose.
“The proportions of a perfect, aesthetically pleasing nose”
In general, your nose should not be too wide – it should ideally be equal to the width of your eye. Like a canvas, your face should ideally vertically divide into five equal parts: your left cheekbone vertical, left eye, nose, right eye and right cheekbone vertical. Evidently, your nose is the central structure of the entire face, which is also why many Asian women obsess with getting their noses right.
Also known as the columellar-labial angle (indicated in above picture), an aesthetically pleasing angle is slightly more than a right-angle – which means, ideally your nose should be ever-so-slightly upward-facing. Anyone’s gotten their protractor out, yet?
“How are nose jobs done?”
There are three main stages for a rhinoplasty surgery: 
- Stage 1: Incision
- Stage 2: Nasal reshaping and resizing
- Stage 3: Closure
Stage 1: Incision
There are two methods of incision – the closed or open method. Both methods will allow the surgeon access to the structure of the nose so he can augment your nasal bones and cartilage.
The closed method (endonasal rhinoplasty) involves internal incisions which are concealed within the nose, so there’s no obvious scarring. This is only suitable if you want minimal changes to the nose tip.
The open method involves a cut across the columella, the narrow strip of skin separating the nostrils. This is usually the selected method if you want significant changes to the nose tip.
Stage 2: Nasal reshaping and resizing (with/without implants)
Typical concerns for Asian noses include a wide tip, large width and a flat/low nose bridge. A simple nose tip reduction will involve removing cartilage in the nasal tip region and then sewing it back up with stitches.
For most other nose augmentation work such as shaping, sculpting and defining your nose – for example, making it slimmer, elevating the nose bridge, it will involve the use of implants for the reshaping, lifting effects. An advanced nose tip job will involve a combination of excess cartilage removals and the placement of implants.
For the implants, you can opt to use synthetic (usually silicon) or autologous cartilage grafts (your own body tissue, usually cartilage harvested from between your nostrils, the ribs, the back of the ear). It’s also possible to opt to use a mix of both.
Stage 3: Closure
Once the reshaping and augmentation of the nose is done, your surgeon would close up the incisions with sutures. Depending on the complexity of your individual nose job, the whole process can take between 1 to 6 hours.
“Can a nose job really make my nose smaller?”
Yes! Augmentation rhinoplasty can not only change the size of your nose, but also shape of your nose – from your nose tip, nose bridge to even your nostrils. A reduction in nose size is also known as alar reduction – specifically for reducing the appearance of wide nose bases. It involves the removal of skin and fat while using sutures to anchor the nose down into its newer, narrower position.
“How long is the recovery for a nose job?”
In general, take 2 weeks’ of leave for your nose job to rest and recover before going back to work.
A nose job is a day surgery, so you will be able to go home on the same day with some medication prescribed. Your nose will also be heavily wrapped in white gauze, so don’t be alarmed when you see yourself in the mirror. Keep your head elevated to reduce swelling.
You can expect some swelling and bruising when you remove the gauze after 1 to 2 days. There can be some nasal obstruction due to the swelling that may last for a week. The swelling typically reduces greatly in 1 to 2 weeks, but it can take up to 6 months for the swelling to dissipate entirely.
Get plenty of rest and refrain from exercising or exerting yourself for a month or so. You may also need to wear a nasal splint to keep the implant in place for 1 to 2 weeks.
“What are the post-op dos and donts after my nose job?”
For the first 2 weeks, avoid spicy food, overly hot food, alcohol, smoking and vigorous exercise as well. Be diligent about wearing sunblock to minimise chances of hyperpigmentation over the operated area, or try to go without sun exposure for the first 1 to 2 months as you go about your daily activities. Also, avoid wearing spectacles or sunglasses that rest on the nose for 3 to 4 months post-op as they may cause pressure marks to develop on your new nose.
“What if I sneeze too hard, will my new nose fall off?”
Your nose will definitely be more delicate for about 2 to 3 months as your nose structures heal from your rhinoplasty surgery. So try and be gentle when you sneeze: if you have to sneeze, sneeze with your mouth wide open to minimise impacts to the nose. Also, do not blow your nose for at least 1 to 2 weeks after your nose job. Basically, just treat it with lots of TLC.
“How painful is a nose job?”
The rhinoplasty surgery is conducted under general anaesthesia (GA), which means you will be asleep and won’t feel a thing during the procedure.
However, there can be mild to significant discomfort in the aftermath of your nose job procedure, when the anaesthesia wears off. Thus, you will be given oral painkillers. It is also likely to experience minor bruising and swelling, which typically diminishes in 1 to 2 weeks.
“Are nose jobs safe? Can I die from a nose job?”
Doing a nose job in Singapore with a reputable, experienced, board-certified surgeon is generally safe. Rhinoplasty has a relatively low major complication rate of 0.7%, where patients have to be re-admitted, visited an Accidents & Emergency department or require re-operation. 
A nose job is a fairly major surgical procedure that requires you to undergo general anaesthesia and every surgery has risks attached to it. It is possible that you may have complications due to the anaesthesia or a medical allergy.
That said, death from a nose job is extremely rare. After all, it is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures.
“What are the risks of a nose job?”
The usual dangers of general anaesthetic apply. Some common complications include bleeding, infection, dislocation of implanted material, etc.  The risk of complications increases with age – a study showed that those above 40 years old were at higher risks of developing complications. 
As nose jobs done with a good doctor are generally safe, the biggest risk is actually dissatisfaction – meaning the outcome of your sculpted nose turned out below expectations.  In fact, many Singaporeans tend to seek revisions – whether minor or major – after their rhinoplasty procedure. Thus, it is important to communicate openly to your plastic surgeon your exact desired nose and expectations and also discuss with him extensively on whether it fits your facial features and hear his take. This way, you can both come to a common understanding so that there won’t be any (nasty) surprises post-op.
After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your notion of a beautiful nose may not be aligned with that of your surgeon’s. This is also why a nose job is regarded as high risk – not because of surgical complications, but because of the subjectivity of the procedure that results from a difference in opinions between the patient and surgeon.
“What age is best for a nose job?”
The right age for a rhinoplasty is when the nose is adult size, at about 18 to 19 years old. It’s also important to consider the maturity at the time of the nose job since almost everyone perceives things differently when they are 18 years old and say, later on, when they are 26.
“How much is a good nose job in Singapore anyway?”
The average cost ranges from $4,000 to $20,000, depending on the complexity of your nose job, i.e. what needs to be done. This cost covers surgical fees, operating room cost, general anaesthesia cost and medications.
“Are there any non-surgical options for a nose job?”
There are nose fillers and threadlifts available, and these options are popular ones due to their non-invasive nature. However, do note that these are only good for minor, subtle changes or lifts to the nose; for example, to slightly alter the shape of your nose tip. These options are also non-permanent, unlike a rhinoplasty procedure, and you will need to go back for another filler or threadlift once a year to maintain the same effect.
Dr Ng Siew Weng from Sweng Aesthetics has underwent Plastic Surgery training in South Korea and his surgical techniques have a strong Korean influence, especially in rhinoplasty and other procedures such as double eyelid surgery, facelift and breast augmentation.
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