To riff on Gertrude Stein, “A nose is a nose is a nose”…unless you hate the look of yours and are eager to make a change.

As the third-most common cosmetic surgery, rhinoplasty (the surgical procedure commonly known as a “nose job”) is performed to correct breathing problems…reconstruct a patient’s nose after an injury…or just to make one’s nose more attractive.

It can be tricky, however, for the patient to accurately describe to the surgeon exactly what he/she hopes the new nose will look like. One person’s idea of an aristocratic bump might be quite different from another’s.

In a study published in 2016 in Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the overall satisfaction rate for patients undergoing rhinoplasty was 83.6%—with significantly more females than males reporting that they were satisfied (87.6% versus 56.1%).

Even if you’re going under the knife to correct a breathing problem or have reconstructive surgery after an injury, many patients take the opportunity to improve features they don’t like.

Enter 3-D printing. Today’s affordable 3-D-printing technology provides an easier way for patients and physicians to communicate about this crucial aspect of the procedure. 3-D printing can be used to preview a new look…and help surgeons keep that look in mind during the procedure.

How it works: With the aid of digital-imaging technology, rhinoplasty patients work with their surgeon to determine how they would like their noses to appear after the procedure.

Once the desired look is determined, a customized, life-size 3-D model—a sort of mask of the patient’s face, including the future nose—can be printed for approval, according to a paper published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

If the patient isn’t entirely happy, the design can be tweaked as many times as necessary until the final model incorporates all the features the patient wants. The model can be created in about a week. Insurance typically does not cover the cost of the model, which varies but usually is between $300 to $500 for two copies (one before and one after the surgery).

How it helps: The computer-designed, 3-D-printed model not only allows the patient to fully customize the outcome, but it also provides a visual and tactile representation of exactly what the new schnoz will look like. This model can be used by the surgeon as a guide during the operation, thus reassuring both the patient and the surgeon that the final result will be as close to the agreed-upon appearance as possible.

Bottom line: A 3-D model can boost your confidence in your decision to change your nose…and increase the likelihood of a perfect proboscis!