Breathing is something we normally don’t think about, as it should happen automatically. But for people with sleep apnea, breathing is a real struggle. The nose is the body’s primary airway, and nasal obstructions can cause serious difficulties.
Rhinoplasty, or a nose job, for sleep apnea, alters the shape to improve airflow and reduce snoring and sleep apnea. Patients often get this type of nasal surgery in conjunction with other sleep apnea treatments.
Sleep Apnea and Your Nose
Your nose is more than just the centerpiece of your face. It’s also an important part of your respiratory system. Your nose filters, warms and humidifies the air you breathe and helps to regulate airflow to your lungs.
When you have obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, your breathing is interrupted while you sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea can happen because of a blockage in your airway or because the muscles in your throat relax and collapse. Either way, obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting the oxygen your body needs.
Functional rhinoplasty addresses breathing problems that contribute to sleep apnea, making it difficult to sleep at night. Common issues include a deviated septum, nasal polyps, enlarged turbinates, and narrow nostrils.
While mouth breathing can help you get more oxygen, it can also dry out your mouth and throat and make you more likely to snore. Rhinoplasty surgery addresses the nasal issues behind snoring and sleep apnea.
A deviated septum occurs when the thin layer of cartilage separating the nostrils tilts to one side, causing an obstruction and making it difficult to breathe through the nose. A deviated septum may create a whistling sound or difficulty drawing a breath through the nostrils.
A broken nose is the most common cause of damage to the nasal cartilage in the septum. The damage can range from a minor fracture to a total collapse of the septum.
Breathing difficulties may be caused by nasal polyps, which are soft growths inside your nasal cavity. The polyps make it harder for air to move and can even block your entire nasal passage if they grow too large.
Turbinates are tiny structures in the nose that help to filter and warm the air you breathe. When the turbinates become too large, they cause partial or complete nasal blockages.
Turbinates can grow or become swollen under certain stimuli, similar to how your sinuses react to allergens. When your nasal passages are blocked, you feel stuffed up, making it difficult to sleep at night.
Narrow nostrils can impede airflow and make it difficult to breathe. A surgical procedure on the nose can widen the nostrils to improve airflow.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, are often treated with a combination of medical and surgical procedures. If you have sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or reducing your body mass index (BMI) and sleeping on your side.
The severity of obstructive sleep apnea is often determined by its impact on your quality of life. If you have mild sleep apnea, you may not need any treatment other than lifestyle changes. Rhinoplasty is also sometimes used to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea caused by a nasal obstruction.
If you have moderate or severe sleep apnea, you may need medical interventions such as CPAP therapy or other forms of surgery, such as neck surgery. Sleep apnea surgery is usually reserved for people who can’t tolerate CPAP machines or who have failed to respond to other treatments.
When You Need Functional Rhinoplasty
Functional rhinoplasty can improve your breathing. Even if you aren’t in need of cosmetic changes, nose surgery can help with breathing issues.
Here is a list of how rhinoplasty can improve sleep apnea:
Correct a deviated septum
Straightening the septum during rhinoplasty can significantly reduce snoring and sleep apnea. The doctor makes an incision in the nostrils to access the septum. He then removes or repositions the cartilage to improve breathing.
Reduce the size of your turbinates
During a rhinoplasty procedure, your surgeon can reduce the size of your turbinates by removing some cartilage to improve airflow and reduce sleep apnea.
Remove nasal polyps
If you have nasal polyps, your surgeon can remove them during rhinoplasty. The procedure to remove the polyps is similar to the one used to correct a deviated septum.
Widen your nostrils
Reconstructive surgery can be used to widen narrow nostrils and significantly improve breathing.
How to Start Improving Your Breathing and Your Sleep
The first thing you need to get started on improving your breathing and getting a better night’s sleep with functional rhinoplasty is to schedule a patient consultation with Dr. Andres Bustillo at his practice in Miami, FL.
Dr. Bustillo is a rhinoplasty specialist with over twelve years of experience working with all types of noses and improving their function and form. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Bustillo by calling (310) 275-2467 or through the contact page.