Can a Rhinoplasty Affect My Sense of Smell?


If you have been contemplating a rhinoplasty, or you recently had the procedure, you may be experiencing changes to your sense of smell. Good news – in most cases, this is just a temporary loss of the ability to sense smells.

How Long Till I’ll Recover my Sense of Smell?

As the post-surgical swelling gradually subsides, nasal sensory perception will improve and smells and tastes will become more defined again. In most patients, it takes about 3 to 6 weeks for sense of smell to fully return. In very rare cases, some individuals have experienced a permanent loss of smell after a nose surgery. This is an unlikely outcome and, in fact, some patients have noted that their sense of smell actually improved after a rhinoplasty – likely due to a correction or repositioning of an obstructed nasal passage.

Self Test if You Lost Your Sense of Smell

Dr. Oz suggests a simple test to identify the degree to which a person lost his sense of small – You can take it before, right after nose surgery, and 2 months later, to evaluate your condition.

How Does Our Body Perceive Smell?

Taste and smell are known as the chemical senses. We are surrounded by smell stimulants – coffee, fresh flowers, an orange – which release scent molecules. Your nose contains fine filaments organized into a sensory nerve, called the olfactory nerve. This nerve, which contains specialized receptor neurons, is anatomically designed to recognize odor. When the scent molecules reach receptor neurons, it triggers our sense of smell.

After a rhinoplasty or septoplasty procedure, the nasal passages will be inflamed, thus reducing airflow into the nose. Because the nasal passageways are obstructed, scent molecules cannot reach the receptors on the olfactory nerve endings. When these odor-detecting receptors do not register smells, the sense of taste is also diminished. (Think about when you are congested or have a cold and can only taste to most spicy of foods.)

Getting Your Smell Back and Reducing the Risks

Because the loss of smell is related to nasal inflammation, you can take steps to ensure your body heals as best it can. Rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid activities that could harm the nose (such as certain sports that carry the risk of impact).

Although the risks of permanent loss of smell are low, the best way to minimize the risks is to choose an experienced plastic surgeon for your rhinoplasty. Dr. Alexis Furze is a double board certified Facial Plastic Surgeon and a Head and Neck surgeon. Call or email his Newport Beach to book a rhinoplasty consultation.

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