Michael Jackson claimed his many nose jobs were an attempt at improving his singing voice. Many before and since have made similar claims, with many doctors reaping the benefits. Your nose is a key part of breathing, and anything that affects your nose could very well affect your voice.
The first thing to note is that there are two kinds of nose plastic surgery, a rhinoplasty and septoplasty. A rhinoplasty is largely aesthetic, but a septoplasty involves moving the septum and would more likely have an impact on your voice. A septoplasty is usually considered a medical necessity, and should be covered by insurance, while a rhinoplasty is considered a vanity surgery, so you will have to cover the bill, except under certain circumstances. Rhinoplasty is also considered one of the more difficult plastic surgeries, so patients need to research potential surgeons before coming to a decision.
The resonance of the nasal cavity is a key part of singing. During singing, sound travels through the nose not the pharynx, and the nasal cavities resonate with sound, amplifying the voice. Nasal breathing is also important, since nasally inhaled air activates the nasopulmonary reflex, allowing the lungs to expand easily. When you consider an operation to open your nose, such as a septoplasty or rhinoplasty, the nasal valves may become constricted, either from removal of tissue or from scarring during healing.
Ideally, you are looking to combine resonance and airways internally with a pleasing aesthetic appearance on the outside. Making the nose too small, although potentially aesthetically appealing, will decrease both airways and resonance, and potentially could have a negative impact on your voice.
In a recent Iranian study of 27 patients, vocal changes were subtle but detectable, with more pronounced nasal pronunciations. The study concluded that rhinoplasties can affect the voice by narrowing the nasal cavity, but more research needs to be conducted. American surgeons were quick to point out the difference in singing styles between North America (where singers sing from the chest and throat) and Iran (where singers sing from the nose), stating that the risks were negligible under a competent doctor. Dr. Steven Pearlman, a facial plastic surgeon based in New York City who was not part of the current research, stated: “The better trained the singer is, the less the nose has to do with it.”
Unfortunately, it is currently impossible to predict how a nose-job will affect your singing voice, or if it even will. Despite all the advances in corrective and plastic surgery, it is impossible to guarantee that a rhino- or septoplasty will have a noticeable impact on your singing voice.
The Royal Centre of Plastic Surgery: Your Nose Surgery Experts
Dr. Kenneth Dickie has over 20 years of experience in the field of plastic surgery. If you have ever felt self-conscious about the appearance of your nose, call the Royal Centre of Plastic Surgery today at (705) 726-2800.