Rhinoplasty may affect voice quality, according to new research in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®.

The changes are perceptible to patients and experts, but generally don’t cause problems with speech function, the researchers report.

Kamran Khazaeni, MD, and colleagues of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran, analyzed changes in voice quality in 27 patients undergoing rhinoplasty at two hospitals in Iran including 22 women and five men who had an average age 24. Twenty-two percent of the patients used their voice professionally.

After rhinoplasty, patients completed a standard questionnaire to rate perceived problems with their voice. In addition, recordings of the patients’ voices made before and after rhinoplasty were compared by trained listeners, who were unaware of whether they were hearing the “before or after” recordings.

The questionnaire responses showed worsening in some areas of voice quality, particularly in the physical and emotional subscales, reflecting patients’ perceptions of their voice, and their emotional responses to it. However, there was no change on the functional subscale, reflecting the effects of voice on daily activities.

The trained listeners also perceived changes in voice quality, including an increase in “hyponasality” following rhinoplasty. An acoustic analysis suggested changes in the frequency and amplitude of certain sounds, which may be related to narrowing of the nasal cavity after rhinoplasty.

Sam S. Rizk, MD, director of Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgery PLLC, routinely discusses the potential for voice changes including hyponasality, with rhinoplasty patients—especially those whose voice is part of their vocation. “Depending on how severe your nasal obstruction can be, after rhinoplasty that opens the airway, your voice may sound different or less nasal sounding,” he says. “In most cases, however, a rhinoplasty does not really change a person’s voice.”

The more internal work that needs to be done to the nose, the greater the chance that your voice may change, especially if you have sinus, turbinates, deviated septum, and nasal airway issues to be addressed during surgery, he says.