The Importance of Being Able to Breathe Through Your Nose

If it seems like everyone you know is getting a nose job during the pandemic, it isn’t just you. Is this nose job trend happening because patients can hide their recovery behind a mask? Is it because there are no social events, so they have time for surgery and recovery? Or is it because government stimulus money can help towards the costs of aesthetic surgery?

It is actually all of the above and even so much more.

There are two types of nose jobs. Rhinoplasty is the surgery to change just the outside of your nose, while septorhinoplasty is the surgery that deals with structural issues inside the nose, such as issues with breathing.. As your nose is made of cartilage and bone, the surgery can impact not just the external appearance but impact the airway, as well. Dr. Diana Ponsky explains, “You want a surgeon who has expertise in both form and function. You want your nose to be able to breathe, as well as to look as beautiful and balanced as it can!”

George, a patient of Dr. Ponsky in her Beachwood, Ohio practice, agrees. George always had trouble breathing through his nose and found that wearing a mask made it much harder to breathe. “I have always been a mouth breather as long as I have been aware,” he says. But with the circumstances of the pandemic, he found an opportunity to correct a long-standing problem. He explained, “I decided I have the time I need to recover now.” In correcting his nasal airflow with a septorhinoplasty, he also sought cosmetic changes to his nasal bridge. 

Dr. Ponsky explains that the nose naturally filters, heat, and treats the raw air we breathe in, usually one nostril at a time. From nasal breathing, a cascade of physiologic events start. When this happens, different hormones are released by our bodies which can help lower your blood pressure, cool the body, decrease anxiety, and even help store memories through the olfactory process. “So, it’s this incredible organ [the nose] that … orchestrates innumerable functions in our body to keep us balanced,” says James Nestor, author of Breath, a new science of a lost art.

Nasal airflow is an important part of our overall wellness. Nasal breathing helps regulate our stress and anxiety levels. This occurs naturally without our conscious awareness through the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems – also known as our fight and flight response. When we are stressed or worried about something, the response is to breathe quickly. This stimulates the sympathetic response, which increases cortisol levels. By consciously breathing slowly, that is associated with a relaxation response. So, the diaphragm lowers, you’re allowing more air into your lungs and your body immediately switches to a relaxed state.

That is why if you have known issues when it comes to breathing through your nose, we would recommend that you do your research on both rhinoplasty and septorhinoplasty. Breathing through your nose allows you to have a more enhanced way of life with all the positives we have listed above. As you breathe through your nose, your body is given a fresh new tank of air and is allowed to release all the stress and carbon dioxide gases from within. When your body is incapable of doing these functions, you may find yourself struggling with long term effects and dangerous health problems.

When you have a compromised way of breathing through your nose, it can lead to symptoms of the disruptive diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Assessment of the nose is critical in evaluating OSA because of the nose’s important role in the physiology of sleep by regulating nasal airway resistance and stimulating ventilation. Nasal obstruction is common in sleep apnea, contributes to OSA, and interferes with tolerance of OSA treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or oral appliances. OSA leads to high blood pressure and resistance to weight loss regimens. And you thought you just had a weird sleeping problem. This problem can turn into a vast variety of issues later down the road if you don’t get your nose and OSA checked by a professional immediately.

Who knew this little organ of ours was so pivotal? Maybe that’s why there’s only one! The nose knows!

Fun facts you may not know about nose jobs:

  • Rhinoplasty was first performed over 2,000 years ago
  • It is the most common surgery among men, and the 3rd most common among women
  • 85% of people who underwent the surgery feel it was worth it
  • 1/3rd of surgical rhinoplasty patients are over the age of 40



References:

Gross, Terry “The Coronavirus Crisis: How the ‘Lost Art’ of Breathing Can Impact Sleep and Resilience” 27 May 2020 1:59PM ET, FreshAir NPR

Georgalas C.Eur. The role of the nose in snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: an update.  Arch Otorhinolaryngology. 2011 Sep;268(9):1365-73. PMID: 21340561

Cai Y, Goldberg AN, Chang JL. The Nose and Nasal Breathing in Sleep Apnea. Otolaryngology Clin North Am. 2020 Jun;53(3):385-395. PMID: 32192710.

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Dr. Diana Ponsky, MD, FACS

Dr. Diana Ponsky, MD, FACS

Dr. Diana Ponsky practices facial plastic surgery in the Cleveland area in northeast Ohio where the number of cases have increased dramatically since March of 2020. Dr. Diana Ponsky is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon specializing in rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty as well as a double board-certified in otolaryngology (or Ear Nose Throat Surgery).

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