What Is The Difference Between Open And Closed Rhinoplasty?

If you’ve ever considered getting a rhinoplasty, you may have come across the terms “open” and “closed” rhinoplasty. But what do these terms actually mean? In a nutshell, open and closed rhinoplasty are two different surgical techniques used to reshape the nose. The key difference lies in the approach taken by the surgeon during the procedure. Open rhinoplasty involves making a small incision on the columella (the strip of skin between the nostrils) to fully expose the nasal framework, whereas closed rhinoplasty is performed entirely from within the nostrils, without any visible external incisions. So, let’s delve deeper into the benefits and considerations of both techniques to help you make an informed decision about which one may be right for you.

Definition of Open and Closed Rhinoplasty

Open and closed rhinoplasty are two different surgical techniques used to reshape the nose. Both procedures aim to improve the aesthetic appearance and/or the functionality of the nose. The main difference between the two techniques lies in the approach and visibility of the nasal structures during the surgery.

Explanation of Open Rhinoplasty

Open rhinoplasty is a surgical approach where an incision is made on the columella, which is the narrow strip of tissue between the nostrils. This incision allows the surgeon to lift the skin and soft tissues of the nose, providing a clear view of the nasal structures. With this visibility, the surgeon can better assess and modify the nasal framework, including the cartilage, bone, and septum, to achieve the desired results.

Explanation of Closed Rhinoplasty

Closed rhinoplasty, on the other hand, is a surgical technique where all incisions are made inside the nostrils. From these hidden incisions, the surgeon gains access to the nasal structures to perform the necessary modifications. The advantage of closed rhinoplasty is that it avoids any external scarring since there are no visible incisions made on the outside of the nose.



In open rhinoplasty, a small incision is made on the columella, which is the fleshy part of the nose between the nostrils. This incision allows the surgeon to lift the skin and soft tissues, providing a clear view of the nasal structures.

In closed rhinoplasty, all incisions are made inside the nostrils. This means that no external incisions are necessary, resulting in no visible scars on the outside of the nose.

Visibility of Incisions

One of the significant differences between open and closed rhinoplasty is the visibility of the incisions. In open rhinoplasty, the incision on the columella is visible, especially during the initial stages of healing. However, over time, this incision usually fades and becomes inconspicuous.

In closed rhinoplasty, since all incisions are made inside the nostrils, there are no visible incisions on the outside of the nose. This makes closed rhinoplasty an attractive option for those concerned about visible scarring.

Access to Nasal Structures

Open rhinoplasty provides a direct and unobstructed view of the nasal structures. This visibility allows the surgeon to make precise modifications to the nose, such as reshaping the cartilage, reducing or augmenting the nasal bridge, or refining the tip of the nose. The surgeon can also thoroughly address any functional issues, such as septal deviation or breathing difficulties.

In closed rhinoplasty, the surgeon has limited visibility of the nasal structures. This technique is more suitable for patients who require minimal modifications, such as a slight tip adjustment or minor hump reduction. However, closed rhinoplasty may not provide the same level of access to address complex cases or significant structural changes.


Location of Scars

In open rhinoplasty, the location of the scar is on the columella, the small strip of tissue between the nostrils. This scar is usually well-hidden and fades over time, becoming less noticeable.

Closed rhinoplasty, as mentioned earlier, does not involve any external incisions or visible scars on the outside of the nose. Therefore, there is no visible scarring associated with closed rhinoplasty.

Appearance of Scars

The appearance of scars can vary from person to person. In open rhinoplasty, the scar on the columella may be slightly noticeable during the initial stages of healing. However, with proper care and time, the scar usually becomes less visible and blends in with the natural contours of the nose.

Since closed rhinoplasty does not involve any external incisions, there are no visible scars. This can be a significant advantage for individuals who have concerns about visible scarring or for those who prefer a more discreet procedure.


Expected Changes

Regardless of the technique chosen, both open and closed rhinoplasty can bring about significant changes to the nasal appearance. Common modifications include refining the nasal tip, reducing or augmenting the nasal bridge, narrowing the nostrils, or correcting a deviated septum.

During a consultation with a surgeon, it is essential to discuss your specific goals and expectations. The surgeon will evaluate whether these changes are achievable based on your individual anatomy and discuss the most appropriate technique for your desired outcomes.


Achieving symmetry in the nose is a crucial goal for rhinoplasty patients. Whether open or closed, both techniques allow the surgeon to address asymmetries and create a more balanced and harmonious nasal appearance.

In open rhinoplasty, the surgeon has greater visibility and control over the nasal structures, which can aid in achieving optimal symmetry. However, this does not mean that closed rhinoplasty cannot achieve symmetrical results. The expertise and skills of the surgeon play a significant role in achieving balance and symmetry, regardless of the technique used.

Natural Look

Another common goal of rhinoplasty is to achieve natural-looking results. Both open and closed rhinoplasty techniques can achieve this outcome when performed by a skilled surgeon.

During the surgery, the surgeon takes into account your individual facial features, proportions, and desires for a balanced, natural-looking result. By preserving harmony with the rest of your face and maintaining the integrity of the nasal structures, the surgeon can help you achieve a nose that appears natural and in balance with your overall appearance.


Post-Operative Care

After rhinoplasty, regardless of the technique used, it is crucial to follow the post-operative care instructions provided by your surgeon. These instructions may include keeping your head elevated, applying cold compresses, taking prescribed medications, and avoiding strenuous activities or actions that may put pressure on the nose.

It is essential to attend all follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and to address any concerns or questions you may have during your recovery period.

Healing Time

The healing time for open and closed rhinoplasty can vary from person to person. Generally, the initial recovery phase lasts about one to two weeks, during which you may experience swelling, bruising, and discomfort. However, it is important to note that the final results of rhinoplasty may take several months to fully manifest as the nose settles into its new shape.

During the recovery period, it is advisable to avoid intense physical activities and be mindful of any potential injury to the nose. Following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions diligently and being patient during the healing process will contribute to the best possible outcome.

Potential Risks and Complications

Every surgical procedure carries some risk, and rhinoplasty is no exception. It is crucial to be aware of the potential risks and complications associated with open and closed rhinoplasty.


Bleeding is a common risk during and after any surgical procedure. However, the risk of significant bleeding during rhinoplasty is relatively low. Your surgeon will take measures to minimize bleeding during the surgery and provide instructions on managing any minor bleeding that may occur during the early stages of the recovery period.


Infection is another potential risk associated with any surgical procedure, including rhinoplasty. However, the risk of infection is relatively low when performed by an experienced surgeon and in a sterile surgical environment. To minimize the risk of infection, it is important to carefully follow your surgeon’s pre and post-operative care instructions.

Altered Sensation

Following rhinoplasty, there is a possibility of temporary altered sensation in the nose, such as numbness or increased sensitivity. These sensations typically resolve on their own over time as the nerves heal. It is crucial to discuss any concerns about altered sensation with your surgeon, as they can provide guidance and reassurance during the recovery process.


Candidate Selection

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for rhinoplasty, whether open or closed. During a consultation with a qualified surgeon, your candidacy will be assessed based on several factors, including your overall health, specific goals and expectations, nasal anatomy, and any pre-existing medical conditions.

Candidates for rhinoplasty should be in good physical health, have a fully developed nose, and have realistic expectations about the outcomes of the procedure. It is important to openly discuss your desired changes and concerns with your surgeon to determine if rhinoplasty is the right choice for you.

Complex Cases

Open rhinoplasty may be more suitable for complex cases where significant modifications to the nasal structure are required. This technique provides the surgeon with better visibility and control over the nasal framework, allowing for more extensive reconstruction or correction of functional issues.

However, closed rhinoplasty can also be effective in addressing certain nasal concerns, such as minor tip adjustments or small hump reductions. The suitability of each technique depends on the individual case and the surgeon’s expertise in both techniques.

Surgeon Preference

Experience and Skills

The experience and skills of the surgeon are crucial factors in the success of a rhinoplasty procedure, regardless of the technique chosen. It is essential to choose a surgeon who is board-certified, has extensive experience in performing rhinoplasty, and specializes in both open and closed techniques.

During the consultation, ask the surgeon about their specific experience with open and closed rhinoplasty and request to see before and after photos of their previous patients. This will help you assess their skill level and determine if they can achieve the results you desire.

Preference for Technique

Surgeon preference and expertise play a role in the choice between open and closed rhinoplasty. Some surgeons may have a preference for one technique over the other based on their experience and comfort level. However, it is important to have an open and honest discussion with your surgeon about your goals, concerns, and their reasoning behind recommending a particular technique.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to proceed with open or closed rhinoplasty should be made collaboratively between you and your surgeon, taking into account your specific needs and desired outcomes.


Factors Affecting Cost

The cost of a rhinoplasty procedure can vary based on several factors, including the surgeon’s experience and reputation, the geographic location of the practice, the complexity of the case, and the specific technique used.

Open rhinoplasty is generally more complex and time-consuming than closed rhinoplasty, which may result in slightly higher costs. However, it is important to prioritize the surgeon’s skills, expertise, and reputation over the cost when choosing a surgeon for rhinoplasty.

Insurance Coverage

In most cases, rhinoplasty is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by insurance. However, if the procedure is performed for functional reasons, such as correcting a deviated septum or addressing breathing difficulties, insurance coverage may be available.

It is advisable to check with your insurance provider to determine if your specific case qualifies for coverage. Your surgeon’s office can also assist in providing the necessary documentation to support an insurance claim, if applicable.

Final Considerations

Personal Preference

Choosing between open and closed rhinoplasty is ultimately a personal preference. It is important to carefully consider your goals, concerns, and desired outcomes when making this decision.

Take the time to research and consult with qualified surgeons who specialize in both techniques. Discuss your expectations and concerns openly during the consultation to ensure the best possible outcome for your rhinoplasty journey.

Consultation with a Surgeon

The first step in your rhinoplasty journey is to schedule a consultation with a qualified and experienced surgeon. During this consultation, the surgeon will assess your individual case, discuss your goals, and recommend the most suitable technique based on your specific needs.

Take this opportunity to ask any questions you may have, review before and after photos of previous patients, and discuss the recovery process, potential risks, and expected outcomes.

By choosing a skilled and reputable surgeon, openly communicating your desires and concerns, and following the recommended aftercare instructions, you can increase your chances of achieving a satisfactory and successful outcome with your rhinoplasty procedure.