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Cartilage Taken from my Ear or Rib for Rhinoplasty. How Much Does This Increase the Risks?

I have had septoplasty (which has not improved my breathing). I am now considering rhinoplasty for a bump at the bridge and to help reshape the tip. However, If cartilage is taken from the ear or rib, does this pose much of a risk that the nose will collapse at a later date? And how effective in reshaping the nose is cartilage used from other areas for rhinoplasty? (I also need to see if my breathing can be improved).

Doctor Answers (12)

Always best to use nasal cartilage for rhinoplasty

+1

Cartilage grafts are only used to build up the nose for cosmetic or structural integrity. It is always best to use nasal cartilage as a primary source for grafting purposes. In cartilage depleted noses the next best solution is ear cartilage. If the ears have been depleted, rib cartilage can be employed but it has other issues such as that it gives the nose a very hard and woody feeling and can warp. We do not recommend rib cartilage unless an extreme case of ear and nasal cartilage depletion before using that grafting source.


Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Cartilage Taken from the Ear or Rib for Rhinoplasty Revision

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There is always some risk in any surgical procedure. However, grafts from the ear and ribs are frequently used in rhinoplasty surgery and should decrease the risk of future nasal collapse. Hopefully the surgeery will improve nasal appearance and function (breathing). 

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Cartilage grafts

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Cartilage from the ear or rib cartilage grafting are excellent ways to enhance aesthetic appearance and breathing function if used properly by a well qualified surgeon.  The possible adverse effects from these grafts usually deal with the donor site, i.e. rib pain or ear deformity or infection.  These problems are rare but always a risk.

Wishing you all the best,

Tal Raine MD

Talmage J. Raine, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

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Rhinoplasty and ear cartilage grafts

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The use of ear cartilage should decrease the risks of  nasal collapse. Any further harvesting from the septum presents the greatest potential for destablilizing the nose.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
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Cartilage for rhinoplasty

+1

Using your own cartilage for rhinoplasty is always the best way to go.  It should not erode or disappear in most cases.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
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Cartilage Taken from my Ear or Rib for Rhinoplasty. How Much Does This Increase the Risks?

+1

You seem to have two issues at this point: functional and cosmetic concerns.  Assuming your septum is straight, then the multiple other factors that can cause breathing obstruction must be addressed, such as internal and external nasal valves, turbinates, etc.  Not all rhinoplasty surgery requires grafting material.  However, autologous grafts (taken from your own body) such as septal, ear, or rib are generally regarded as long lasting, safe, and effective.  Like many who have commented, I prefer septal cartilage if it is available.  Ear cartilage is easy to harvest, but the cartilage tends to be weak and thin.  Another option is irradiated cartilage, which has also been proven to be long lasting with minimal risk of resorption. 

Matthew Bridges, MD
Richmond Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Rhinoplasty and Grafting

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Any time you introduce a donor site, meaning taking something like cartilage from the ear or ribs you increases risks.  Surgery all has risks.  However, if the surgeon feels that you need grafts then you need grafts.  So it all comes within the domain of getting your nose to look better.

I would consult with several surgeons and see if you really need cartilage grafts.

Good luck.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Cartilage Taken from my Ear or Rib for Rhinoplasty

+1

I agree with Dr Mayer as to choices of the location for cartilage grafting to the nose, if you ONLY wish to use autograft materials. Cadaver bone is also a possible choice you should consider. You nee many in person evaluations to fully understand all the implications. Best of luck. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
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Cartilage Grafting from the Ears or Ribs increases the Relative complexity of Nose Surgery

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Regarding: "Cartilage Taken from my Ear or Rib for Rhinoplasty. How Much Does This Increase the Risks?
I have had septoplasty (which has not improved my breathing). I am now considering rhinoplasty for a bump at the bridge and to help reshape the tip. However, If cartilage is taken from the ear or rib, does this pose much of a risk that the nose will collapse at a later date? And how effective in reshaping the nose is cartilage used from other areas for rhinoplasty? (I also need to see if my breathing can be improved
)."

Respectfully, I think your order of priorities needs to be reversed.  Were I in your shoes, I would want to know WHY a inner nose operation did not improve your breathing before embarking on a potentially complex nasal beautification operation. Were you misdiagnosed and had the wrong operation? Was the operation performed poorly? Was there a complication?

Armed with the answer to these questions, I would ask the Nose surgeon what he proposed to do to improve your breathing this time around, how likely was this to work and what were the potential complications. At the same time, you may wish to inquire if your nose could be made more attractive OR was that too much surgery. I would suggest you see several surgeons and see if their suggestions are very different.

Most experienced nose surgeons would suggest that IF cartilage grafts are needed, all sites being available, the septum would be the go to site followed by the ears followed by the ribs. Harvesting cartilage from the ears and ribs carries their own potential risks and should be done with this in mind.

Good Luck.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Ear & Rib Cartilage During Rhinoplasty

+1

Ear, rib (costal) and septal cartilage are all considered viable options for grafting during rhinoplasty. All of these sources for cartilage are at risk of resorption. Fortunately, when done properly, cartilage grafting can be done with excellent results long-term. If available, I prefer to use septal cartilage first. Ear cartilage is a back up option if small quantities of cartilage are needed. Rib cartilage is usually reserved for cases where a significant amount of cartilage grafting is going to be undertaken.

John M. Hilinski, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.