New rhinoplasty technique, painless


Julia is much happier with her looks these days. She underwent rhinoplasty to fix a deviated septum and to cosmetically reduce her nose. She says she didn't experience the trauma that's often associated with the procedure, from pain to black eyes. "It was nothing like I imagined, I had no pain," Julia said.

"Rhinoplasty has a reputation of being a brutal procedure and not entirely undeserved," Dr. Laurence Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz is a plastic surgeon in Los Gatos. He says, he uses traditional tools for traditional versions of the procedure, which involve breaking bones in the nose in order to reshape it. "You're looking at instruments that have barely changed in 100 years. Mallets and chisels were used to break the bones. These saws were used to saw the bone before you would break it," Berkowitz said.

But he says recent advancements in technology have radically reduced the trauma. "What's new is the development of ultra high-frequency power tools that assist us in shaping the nose, moving the bones without breaking the bone" Berkowitz said. The new generation tools include saws so delicate they can cut through bone without disturbing the surrounding tissue. "I can actually thin or shape cartilage, something you could never do," he said.

Berkowitz says the techniques have significantly reduced side effects like black eyes, while other advances have cut healing time. One of the more recent involves taking blood from the patient's own body and using it to create a kind of organic glue. "Using the patient's own blood to make fiber and glue allows us to seal the wound as an internal adhesive and reduces bruising tremendously," he said.

For Julia, the combination of new techniques allowed her to return to medical school courses in under a week. The result was also a combination benefit. She was able to breathe easier with her corrected septum and got an emotional boost from the cosmetic side of the procedure. "It improved my confidence and my nose became a better fit for my face and I was really happy with the outcome" she said.

When it comes to insurance coverage, if the procedure is done to correct a breathing problem or deviated septum it is usually covered by insurance. However, if it's done purely for cosmetic reasons it typically is not.

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