Dorsal humps are cartilage and bone irregularities on the nose. These irregularities can cause a bump or “hump” in the outline of a person’s nose, instead of a straight slope from the bridge of the nose to the tip.
For most people, there’s nothing unhealthy or dangerous about these naturally occurring bumps on the nose. But some feel self-conscious about the way dorsal humps look.
Dorsal hump removal is one of the most common reasons that people pursue a cosmetic rhinoplasty (also known as a nose job).
This article will explain what dorsal humps are, why they happen, and what to expect if you decide to have a dorsal hump surgically removed.
The nasal “dorsum” is the bone-and-cartilage structure that connects your nose to your face. Most of us refer to it as the “bridge” of our nose. The dorsum can develop humps for several reasons.
Some people inherit dorsal humps genetically — meaning they’re born with a tendency to develop a bump in their nose.
Dorsal humps that are inherited genetically don’t always appear in childhood, but they may appear during puberty when the nose is still developing.
Trauma or injury
Trauma or injury to your nose can also cause a dorsal hump to develop. A bruise on your nose or a broken nose can result in a dorsal hump if the cartilage and bone heal unevenly.
Even though a dorsal hump can sometimes make the nose appear compromised, the bone-and-cartilage irregularity doesn’t actually restrict breathing ability.
Your septum passages can be deviated because of an injury that also caused a dorsal hump, but removing the hump won’t necessarily improve your ability to breathe freely.
Dorsal hump removal is a personal decision, not a medical necessity. These bumps only need to be removed if you’re unhappy with your nose shape and have a strong, consistent wish to make a change.
Dorsal hump removal options include a surgery called a rhinoplasty and a noninvasive procedure known as a nonsurgical rhinoplasty.
A traditional rhinoplasty, also called an open rhinoplasty, is the most common method for permanently removing a dorsal hump.
This surgery requires general anesthesia, during which a plastic surgeon makes a small incision that gives them a full view of the bone and cartilage under your skin.
Your surgeon then sands down and reshapes the contour of your nose, which may involve breaking and resetting nasal bones to improve shape.
After an open rhinoplasty, your nose is covered in a splint or cast for up to a week. Total recovery takes up to 3 weeks on average.
In a closed rhinoplasty, your plastic surgeon works through your nostrils instead of making a visible incision on the bridge of your nose.
This procedure also requires general anesthesia. Your surgeon works underneath your nostrils to modify the bone and cartilage above your nasal passages.
Closed rhinoplasty usually requires less recovery time, with full recovery expected between 1 and 2 weeks.
Nonsurgical rhinoplasty, also called a liquid rhinoplasty, produces results that can last between 6 months to 2 years.
This procedure requires topical anesthesia and can be completed in about half an hour.
Using dermal fillers, your plastic surgeon fills in the areas of your nose around where your dorsal hump begins. This can result in a smoother silhouette down the bridge of your nose.
This procedure is significantly less expensive than a rhinoplasty, with fewer possible complications and little to no recovery time before you can resume your regular activities.
Dorsal hump removal doesn’t address a medical condition that needs correction. That means it isn’t covered by insurance.
If you decide to get a surgical rhinoplasty or try dermal fillers to reduce the appearance of dorsal humps, you’ll have to pay the full amount out of pocket.
In 2018, the average cost for an open or closed surgical rhinoplasty was around $5,300 in the United States.
Dermal fillers commonly used in liquid rhinoplasty cost an average of $683 per procedure in that same year.
The cost of removing a dorsal hump varies widely according to:
- the experience level of your provider
- the cost of living in your area
- what is involved in your specific case
When you calculate how much this procedure is going to cost, make sure that you account for things like anesthesia, prescription pain medication to manage pain afterward, and the amount of time you may have to take off from work.
Finding a board certified surgeon to perform your dorsal hump removal is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications.
Prior to your procedure, make sure to schedule a consultation with your plastic surgeon to discuss the procedure and your goals. A good surgeon will be realistic with you about the extent to which your appearance might change. They should also provide before and after photos of other people who’ve had the procedure.
Questions to ask your surgeon
Here are some questions to ask your surgeon during your presurgery consultation:
- What will my total out-of-pocket cost be for this procedure?
- What is a realistic outcome for me from this procedure?
- What are the possible complications that are caused by this procedure?
- How much experience do you have with this specific procedure?
- How long will my recovery time be from this procedure?
Make sure you let your surgeon know of any health conditions, family health history, and drugs (prescription or recreational) that you’re taking.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons maintains a search tool that you can use to look for a good plastic surgeon in your area.
Don’t consider rhinoplasty until your face is finished developing
The shape of your face continues to change through puberty and even your late teens. No rhinoplasty procedure should be performed before your face is finished developing.
A good plastic surgeon will be able to determine if your face shape might still be changing, and will advise you to wait until your face has reached full maturity.
A dorsal hump can’t “grow back” after it’s removed.
After a surgical rhinoplasty, some people develop calluses in the area where the bone and cartilage were removed. These calluses can themselves resemble dorsal humps.
Another side effect of surgical rhinoplasty is bruising and inflammation.
While you heal, you may notice that the area where your dorsal hump was removed looks swollen and enlarged. That swelling doesn’t mean the removed dorsal hump is somehow growing back. Any swelling from the surgery should subside within a week or so.
There’s no medical reason for getting dorsal humps removed. But if you’re feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious about a bump in your nose, it’s important for you to know that you do have options.
If your feelings about your nose is affecting your daily life, dorsal hump removal may be worth considering.