Ask a doctor

How Can I Reduce Nostril Flare or Size?

I like the size and shape of my nose, but I do not like how my nostrils flare up even when they are relaxed. I am part Latino, and I understand that nostril flare is common among non-white people. Is it possible to reduce only nostril flare (and leave the rest of the nose alone) during Rhinoplasty? What are special risks associated with this surgery? Is this a major surgery with a lot of downtime? Is it a common surgery? Relatively hard to perform? I've never had any reconstructive facial surgery before. Thank you very much in advance for any information!

Doctor Answers (8)

The easiest way to reduce nostril-show is often by shortening the septum

+2

The easiest way to reduce nostril-show is often by shortening the septum (the cartilagenous tissue that separates the right side from the left side of the nose). In this way, what is known as a “hanging collumella” is reduced so that the nostril is not so visible. This may occasionally require narrowing the base of the nostrils surgically, as well. Instead of “open rhinoplasty”, these procedures can be performed in a “closed” fashion.


Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Flaring nostrils can be difficult to treat

+2

Flaring nostrils is a very difficult problem to deal with in the field of rhinoplasty. If there is a lot of notching upwards of the nostril rim, a compound graft of cartilage and skin can be taken from the ear and inserted up on the inside of the nostril to bring the flaring downwards. The wide nostrils can be narrowed with an alarplasty technique. The risks with this surgery are trying to get both nostrils perfectly even, which is difficult to do since there is cartilage and skin grafting performed. In addition to that, there is always preexisting asymmetries, and it is important not to exacerbate this during the surgery. Regarding the surgery itself, there is not a whole lot of downtime with this other than some sutures placed on the inside of the nose and up inside the crease of the upper portion of the ear.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Reducing Nostril Flare Creates Dramatic Results

+2

Nostril reduction surgery (called Alarplasty / Alar Base Reduction) is a commonly performed procedure that can narrow the width of the nostril base, decrease the amount of nostril flaring, or decrease the size of the nostrils.

How It Is Done:

  • To accomplish narrowing of the nostril base and nostril flaring, an alar base resection is performed by removing a crescent shape wedge of tissue from the nostril wall.
  • The incisions are placed in the crease where the nostril wall meets the cheek. When performed correctly, the scar is hidden in the "new" crease where the nostril meets the cheek.

Recovery:

  • It is possible to perform this procedure alone or as part of a rhinoplasty.
  • If performed alone, the recovery is fairly easy with minimal downtime. The stitches will remain in place for a week.
  • If performed in conjuction with a rhinoplasty, it does not add any additional recovery time.

Risks:

  • The biggest risk for alar base reduction is scarring. If not performed correctly, the scars can cause notching of the nostril where it meets the cheek/lip.
  • The incisions can remain red for several weeks, but generally heal very well and are not noticable after that time.

C. Spencer Cochran, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

How to correct nostrils flare

+1

The base of our nose or the with of our nostrils contribute significantly to the overall shape of the nose. Excess nostrils flare can be addressed using alar base reduction techniques.  These techniques require incisions on the external skin of the nose, to remove the excess skin contributing to the nostril flare.  These incisions tend to hide well within the natural creases of the nostril.

Edward S. Kwak, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Reducing Nostril Flaring

+1

This is commonly done, especially in patients of color, to reduce nostril flaring. It is called Alar Base resection. It is an incision on the outside of the nostril base which usually heals very well. One must be very careful when performing an Alar Base resection to prevent excess scarring and nostril asymmetry.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Reducing flaring nostrils

+1

When treating the nostrils in Rhinoplasty, the size, width, and flare of the nostrils should all be considered. The type of nostril reduction is based upon this. Nostril flare can be reduced without any other changes to the nose.

Reducton of alar (nostril) flare can be done in the office under local anesthesia when performed alone. The main risks include uneven nostrils and difficulty breathing. These are problems that can be difficult to corect if they occur. It is important to have your nose evaluated by a specialist to make sure that this is what needs to be done and can be done safely.

To a nose specialist this is a common procedure. I recommend you consult with a surgeon who frequently performs rhinoplasty so that you can be certain that this is the right thing for you.

Jacob D. Steiger, MD
Boca Raton Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Alarplasty

+1

 Reduction or change in the contour of the nostrils is a relatively frequent procedure  which can be done without a full rhinoplasty. Incisions are placed inconspicuously at the base of the nose. Rarely are they a cosmetic problem after surgery. 

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 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.