Rhinophyma is a skin condition that causes a large red, bulbous nose. It’s a severe form of rosacea, a chronic skin condition that causes redness and bumps on the face. Treatment is important because rhinophyma can cause breathing trouble when the airways become blocked. The main treatment for rhinophyma is surgery, and there are a few different options available. Oral treatments and lifestyle changes can also help control the condition.
This article will cover treatments for rhinophyma, including the types of surgery for rhinophyma and what to expect from rhinophyma surgery. It will also cover the medication and lifestyle changes that may help prevent rhinophyma from getting worse.
Surgery is the main treatment for rhinophyma. The condition causes the tissue in the nose to grow rapidly and makes the blood vessels bigger (enlarged). Surgery corrects these problems by:
- Reshaping the nose to improve its appearance and help a person breathe better
- Removing overgrown tissue
- Reducing enlarged blood vessels
There are three main surgical techniques used to treat rhinophyma:
- Dermabrasion: A skin rejuvenation technique that uses a rotating plate to remove the top layers of skin
- Laser: Used to resurface and reshape the nose
- Scalpel or surgical scissors: Used to remove excess tissue
In rare cases, people with severe rhinophyma might need skin grafts to reconstruct their noses.
Your healthcare provider might suggest combining more than one technique to get the best results from rhinophyma surgery. They will help you understand the surgical options and decide which is right for you.
What to Expect From Rhinophyma Surgery
If you’re considering rhinophyma surgery, start by talking to your healthcare provider. They can talk to you about the procedure and you can share the results you would like to achieve. It can be helpful to bring a photo of yourself before surgery. This can help your provider understand the shape and aesthetic that you’re looking for.
In most cases, rhinophyma surgery is an outpatient procedure that takes between half an hour and two hours. You’ll be sedated but not under general anesthesia. After the procedure, you’ll go home with your nose bandaged.
You’ll notice some changes immediately—for example, in the shape and size of your nose. It takes about two weeks for the initial stages of healing to take place. Then, it will be about two more months until all the tissue heals and you will be able to see the final shape of your nose.
For most people, one surgery is enough to correct rhinophyma, but people with severe cases might need to have a second surgery.
Although surgery is the main treatment for rhinophyma, some prescription acne medications can help treat the condition. Research has shown that isotretinoin, a cystic acne medication, can keep rhinophyma from getting worse—especially if it is started when symptoms first appear.
Researchers are also looking at tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator that’s used to treat breast cancer, as a possible treatment for rhinophyma.
There are other treatments for rosacea, including anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, but none of them work for rhinophyma.
There are no lifestyle changes that have been proven to treat rhinophyma. However, you might want to make some lifestyle changes that can help with rosacea, such as:
- Avoiding triggers (e.g., alcohol, cigarette smoke, spicy foods, and extreme temperatures)
- Wearing sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and avoiding too much sun exposure
- Using gentle soaps
Providers used to think that rhinophyma was caused by alcohol use, but that is not true. The condition occurs equally in people who drink alcohol and people who do not.
Rhinophyma is a severe form of rosacea. It causes the nose to become large, red, and bulbous in appearance. Surgery is the most common and effective treatment. If you notice the symptoms of rhinophyma, taking prescription acne medication early and making lifestyle changes that help with rosacea can be beneficial for managing the condition.
A Word From Verywell
Rhinophyma can cause dramatic changes in the appearance of your face. These changes can affect your self-esteem and emotional well-being. Physically, rhinophyma can affect your breathing and nasal function. If you notice symptoms of rhinophyma, talk to your healthcare provider. They can go over your options for treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is rhinophyma?
Rhinophyma is a severe form of the skin condition rosacea. Providers used to think that it was caused by alcohol use, but that has been disproven.
How is rhinophyma treated?
The most common treatment for rhinophyma is surgery. You can discuss the option with your healthcare provider and find out what to expect from the surgery and recovery.
Can rhinophyma come back?
Yes, rhinophyma can recur. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk for recurrence.
National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. Rhinophyma.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. Rhinophyma.
Chang DK, Savetsky IL, Avashia YJ, et al. A Safe, Modern Treatment of Rhinophyma. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open. 2020;8(6):e2620. doi:10.1097/gox.0000000000002620
Northwestern Facial Plastic Surgery. Rhinophyma.
Guttman Krader C. Rhinophyma Treatment, Prevention Strategies.
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