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How’s Your Breathing?

by | Aug 30, 2013 | Blog, Rhinoplasty

We’re not talking about looks here, but about breathing functionality. Most of us hardly ever think about our noses’ main role, ensuring that our lungs get enough oxygen and all the carbon dioxide from our body is released from our body. For some people, though, each breath they take can be a problem.

People with asthma, sinus problems and severe nasal obstruction need medical treatment and can usually find relief that way. Nasal obstruction can stem from various causes, including allergies as well as structural and other issues like the presence of nasal polyps, enlargement of nasal turbinates or a deviated septum.

You can find out more about seasonal allergies and how severe nasal obstruction can be treated with functional rhinoplasty in previous blog posts.

How are breathing problems detected?

Often people will complain about breathing problems and look for a nose specialist to correct them. But there are also people who fail to notice when their breathing function is compromised.

There are a number of ways to find out whether your nose works as well as it should. The tests we use most often are

  • Nasal peak inspiratory flow rate– This is a measure of nasal function rather than lung function. Nasal peak inspiratory flow is measured while you breathe in, and with your mouth closed. From a rhinoplasty surgeon’s point, this is a far more important measure than lung function, which is a measure of general health.
  • Acousticrhinometry–An objective test that attempts to assess openness (patency) of your nasal airway. An acoustic rhinometer uses a reflected sound signal to measure the cross-sectional area and volume of the nasal passage. The readings help Dr Marcells to establish an anatomic description of your nasal passage. We do this both before and after surgery. You may also come across this test when you seek medical treatment for decongestion with antihistamines or corticosteroids.
  •  Rhinomanometry – An objective test that measures air pressure and the rate of airflow during breathing. Rhinomanometry provides a functional measure of the pressure or flow relationships during the breathing (respiratory) cycle.  It is useful to calculate nasal airway resistance. Often acoustic rhinometry readings and rhinomanometry readings are used together. Rhinomanometry is also used for measuring decongestive action of antihistamines and corticosteroids. Dr Marcells uses it before and after nose surgery to help in surgical planning and post surgery effectiveness.

Who we test

We routinely test all our rhinoplasty patients—even those seeking aesthetic nose reshaping surgery without any functional complaints—because we want to know how well their noses work before surgery and how the results of surgery will improve or help maintain proper breathing function. We test patientswho complain of breathing issues as well as those who do not. People who have suffered nasal injuries, complain about snoring or are suspected of suffering from sleep apnea can also benefit from these tests.

Nose surgeries, whether they are aesthetic, functional or a combination of both, are delicate procedures. Even the slightest changes can createdisproportionate changes in breathing function.

We use these tests on all patients as a measure of our surgical performance. Comparing these test results before and after surgery—just as we do with image comparisons—can give objective measures of whether we have improved an existing situation, maintained it or made it worse.

Most of the time the results are positive. Therefore, putting aside the fact that our rhinoplasty patients are pleased with the outcomes, we have these measurements as proof of a job well done.

If you wish to read more information on how any of the tests mentioned above can help you, or if you wish to make an appointment with Dr Marcells, please contact us on 1300 555 095. You can also use email or the ‘book consultation’ feature of this website to make an appointment.

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Meet Dr Marcells

Past President – Australasian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgeons

Dr George Marcells is known for excellence in facial plastic surgery and is considered a true master of rhinoplasty. He performs advanced surgical techniques to restore balance and harmony to the face and can also resolve functional issues such as breathing difficulties.

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