When performing a rhinoplasty (nose job), it is important that the nose breathes well, as well as looks good. If you have difficulty breathing, be assured that nasal airway problems can be corrected physiologically so that your physical activities will not be hampered by breathing difficulties.
While a person can breathe through either the nose or the mouth, mouth-breathing is not physiologic; it is more of a safety access for air when the nose becomes obstructed. A brief review of nasal anatomy is essential for understanding how the nose works:
If we follow the air entering the nose, it first encounters stiff nasal hairs in the nostrils called vibrissae. The vibrissae filter out large airborne particles, while nasal mucous entraps fine particulate material. Thus, the air is cleaned before it goes down into the lungs.
The next important function to consider is air temperature control. By the time the air passes from the nostrils to the posterior pharynx (wall in the back of the throat), it is within one degree of body temperature. This extraordinary feat is accomplished by structures called turbinates. The turbinates have an immense blood supply, and as they increase the surface area inside the nose, they allow for heat transfer to the inspired air. The turbinates are made up of supportive, thin bone covered by a plexus of blood-rich tissue, which can swell and contract. This is covered by a moist, red lining called mucosa.
In addition to temperature control, the turbinates release water vapor into the air, so that the air is humidified before it goes into the lungs. There is a delicate balance between form and function, which must be maintained for the nose to breathe well. If the turbinates are removed (amputated), for example, the nose can become dry inside and result in a miserable condition called atrophic rhinitis. Patients with such dry noses require special irrigation solutions repeatedly throughout the day for the rest of their lives. We recommend against amputation of the turbinates.