MONDAY, Jan. 16, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Getting a "nose job" might do more than improve someone's looks. A new study suggests the procedure may make patients appear 1.5 years younger on average.
Although a plastic surgeon familiar with the findings said people may look younger simply because they're happier with their appearance after a nose job, the study's lead author -- a plastic surgeon -- said the procedure -- known as rhinoplasty -- clearly provides an added benefit for older patients.
"The face does look younger after getting a rhinoplasty. It's just a nice surprise that goes along with the surgery," said Dr. Ali Sepehr, a facial plastic surgeon with the OC Center for Facial Plastic Surgery in Irvine, Calif. He added that the study findings could turn a seeming anti-aging effect into one of rhinoplasty's selling points.
Dr. Michael Olding, chief of plastic surgery at George Washington University School of Medicine, questioned whether it's the remodeled nose, or the patient's new outlook, that seems to turn back the clock. "Patients usually come back happier, with more of a smile on their face," Olding said.
"No one would operate on a nose to make the patient look younger," Olding added. Instead, he said, the goal is to improve the harmony of the nose and the face.
Nose jobs are expensive -- running from a few thousand dollars to $25,000 -- and require a week or two of recovery time, Sepehr said.
Plastic surgeons may remake the nose to repair an injury or deformity, or to make it more visually appealing. Over time, the procedure has evolved to produce "more subtle changes in the nasal appearance ... and have the nose fit into the face," said Dr. Seth Thaller, chief of the division of plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
In the new study, the researchers asked 50 people ("observers") to look at photos before and one year after surgery of 53 patients (including 41 women) who had undergone nose jobs. The observers were asked to estimate the ages of the patients, who ranged from 15 to 61. Their average age was 35.
Those who had undergone a nose job looked 1.5 years younger on average, with the youthful benefits more evident for older patients than younger ones. "The rejuvenating effect of rhinoplasty can now objectively be listed as one of the benefits of undergoing this procedure," the researchers wrote in their study.
Sepehr put it this way: "It's not a significant effect, as much as a face lift and neck lift would do, but it is something."
The particular procedure also influenced the degree of change. Regardless of age, patients who had a dorsal hump -- the hump on the bridge of the nose -- reduced, and patients with a greater degree of nasal tip rotation appeared to lose more years than other patients.
Thaller agreed with Olding that nose jobs can have a significant effect on patients. "I have noted a complete change in people's own self-perception. They frequently feel better about themselves. They may change their hair style, clothing and makeup. This may in fact also help to make them appear younger or rejuvenated."
The study appears in the January/February issue of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.
For more about rhinoplasty, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.