During a 1977 interview with Playboy Magazine, singing and acting icon Barbra Streisand credited her deviated septum with the unique qualities of her voice and admitted that a nose job “would ruin my career.” A study out of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran has now determined that a nose job, also known as rhinoplasty, can change the sound of a patient’s voice by narrowing their nasal cavity.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, plastic surgery around the face area can lead to various health risks including: nasal septal perforation (a hole in the nasal septum), numbness, nose asymmetry, and an increase in blood clots that could lead to further cardiac and pulmonary complications. Approximately one out of every 560 people in Iran received a nose job back in 2011, compared to 1,250 Americans in 2012, Reuters reported.

Lead researcher Dr. Kamran Khazaeni and his colleagues from the university tracked five men and 22 women enrolled at two Iranian hospitals who were scheduled to go under the knife to correct a problem with their nose. Before the operation and five months after, patients were asked to complete Voice Handicap Index questionnaires while six “trained listeners” conducted a perceptual and acoustic analysis by listening to each patient on a voice recorder.  

Findings from the study have revealed that a person’s voice is likely to change after rhinoplasty due to a narrowing of the nasal cavity. The result is what Khazaeni and his colleageus call “hyponasality,” when the sound of a person’s voice is obstructed due to an adequate amount of air that is not moving through the nasal cavity, similar to a person with a stuffy nose. Twenty-two of the patient’s involved in this study were professional vocalists.

"This observed increase in hyponasality perception demonstrates that the change in the patients' voices is perceptible to trained listeners, but does not address whether this change is apparent in everyday life and in routine conversations," Khazaeni said in a statement. "The changes in surface area of nasal cavity may increase airflow resistance and cause an increase in sound absorption and a decrease in passing sound amplitude."

Before considering any type of cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, make sure you talk to a plastic surgeon about any concerns you may be experiencing. Surgeons will most likely outline a detailed planned for your operation, complete with specific instructions you are expected to follow before, during, and after the procedure. Seek immediate medical attention if you begin to suffer chest pains, shortness of breath, or a disrupted heart rhythm.

"Recently we have noticed patients who use their voice professionally asking if rhinoplasty changes their voice," Khazaeni added. “For individuals who rely on their voice for professional reasons, the surgeon should discuss these changes with the patient preoperatively and consider more conservative types of surgery."

 

Source: Mahdi F, Haghi M, Jahangiri N, Masshadi L, Khazaeni K. The Potential Effects of Rhinoplasty on Voice. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2014