When considering rhinoplasty surgery—whether it is for personal or health-related reasons— many wonder if nose surgery will affect their sense of smell. The short answer? Yes, and No.

The truth is a little bit of both happens. In the days following your surgery, you will experience some swelling, which will diminish your sense of smell. In this way, yes, your sense of smell will be affected. As time moves on, however, your swelling will decrease and your sense of smell will return. But even then it may not be just as it was before. If your rhinoplasty is to correct a blocked airway, for example, your sense of smell could actually improve following nose surgery!

Now, let’s break that answer down, even more, to understand just how your sense of smell works and the various ways in which it can be impacted.

As mentioned, in the weeks following surgery you will experience some nasal swelling. The swelling can cause a diminished sense of smell because it blocks the airways—much like a stuffy nose associated with cold blocks the airways. Depending on the nature of your surgery and what it requires, the temporary loss of smell can last for up to a month. Rarely, if ever, does it last longer than that. As your nose heals, the swelling will go down and your sense of smell will begin to return.

Hair cells located in the nose are the smell receptors responsible for allowing chemicals to enter the nose and dissolve within the olfactory epithelium. For this reason, the smell receptors are known as olfactory nerves. These nerves reach from inside the nostrils to the top of the base of the skull. Swelling impairs the functionality of these nerves. And, since our sense of smell is also closely related to our sense of taste, some may experience some problems with their sense of taste as well while the nose is healing.

If you need surgery to repair a deviated septum and certain other procedures, it may even result in an enhanced sense of smell after swelling has gone down. Schedule a consultation to discuss all the ways rhinoplasty can benefit you.