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Can Rhinoplasty Narrow a Wide Nose and Still Look Natural?

my nostrils are very small but my ala is really wide esspecially when i laugh. Is there a way the doctor can bring in my ala or prevent it from spreading when i laugh! without again affecting my nostrils? or are there ways to bring it in and make my nostrills bigger?

how can a wide nose be brought in without it appearing unnatural?

Doctor Answers (35)

Refining & Narrowing Your Nose...

Great question! Yes - In general, rhinoplasty surgery can narrow a wide nose and still look natural. A few things you may want to consider...

I feel the nostrils should only be done occasionally and judiciously. It is very natural to have nostril flare (curvature of the nostrils - curving out, then in). Removing all nostril flare or having the nostrils joining directly to the face without any curve results in a very unnatural look. The procedure requires making small incisions on the outside of the nose which could leave scars and is almost impossible to reverse if over-done.

Our concept of facial beauty has evolved and we are now including nostril flare as an acceptable and even desirable trait. A great example of balancing ethnicity and facial beauty is Rihanna, who has a beautiful nose with a very defined tip, but prominent nostril flare.

That being said, there are times when excess nostril flare may be reduced to produce very nice results. You will notice the results are modest and natural appearing.

If it's the upper part of the nose would you like to narrow, (called the dorsum or bridge), the dorsum can be narrowed with or without tip refinement. Often, some tip refinement is done providing a smooth transition from the tip to the bridge.

Narrowing the nasal-tip is also a common request. Both of these procedures can be done and absolutely look natural. It is very important to preserve a smooth transition from the tip to the dorsum/bridge to avoid a pinched or parentheses deformity to the tip.

One last tip... when seeking a surgeon for this type of procedure, please make sure that your doctor is a board-certified plastic surgeon, specializing in rhinoplasty. Always ask for patient referrals and to see before/after photographs of patients with similar goals. It will definitely behoove you to do your homework and find a surgeon with the experience and qualifications before scheduling a surgery.

I hope this is helpful!

For more information on Rhinoplasty, please click the link below.

Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Rhinoplasty To Narrow Wide Nose To Look Natural


Thank you for your question. A Rhinoplasty can be done to narrow your nose and should look natural.

Most Rhinoplasty procedures are done to narrow the tip and the bridge. However if you want the Alar base and nostrils changed an additional Weir Alar Base reduction would be done to narrow the nostrils. I do not know of a procedure to widen the nostrils.

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Wide Noses


You asked a few different questions so here are answers: -- can you reduce the size of my alar base without reducing the size of my nostrils-- yes, alar base reduction can be performed a variety of techniques not all of which will reduce the size of your nostril. --can you prevent my nostrils from widening with smiling-- the nostrils are typically widened with smiling. The facial muscles responsible for this are important for several functions so you would not want to sever them. you can prevent a nose from plunging with smiling, but it is much more difficult to prevent your nostrils (alar base) from widening with smiling --can you bring in my (alar base) and make my nostrils wider-- this is a complex three dimensional question which depends on what part of your nose you want wider.

There are a variety of grafts which can be placed in your nose which can help widen the nose in different areas but widening a too narrow nostril is generally one of the more difficult tasks in rhinoplasty --the key to bringing in a wide nose in without it looking unnatural-- planning, surgical experience, knowledge of sophisticated rhinoplasty techniques, etc. Good luck

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

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Rhinoplasty and Natural Results


Hi nosechanger,

The answers to your questions are yes. There are techniques that can make your lateral nasal alae smaller so that when you smile they do not spread so much. Your lateral nostril may be a little smaller, but still retain a natural appearance. A wide nose can be "brought in" without it appearing unnatural. One must maintain the nasal dorsal line which runs from the medial edge of the eye brow, down to the defining point of the nasal tip. It is more difficult to achieve excellent results in patients with thick, oily skin.

I would favor an open or external approach rhinoplasty to achieve the results that you desire. The changes that you are inquiring about involve advanced rhinoplasty techniques. You should research and choose your surgeon most carefully. Much good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Nostril Flaring


There are two operations that might be just right for you. Nostril flaring is related to the action of the dilator nasalis muscles. These muscles are used as accessory muscles of respiration during times of respiratory distress; they are partially responsible for 'nasal flaring'. Dilator nasalis arises from the facial bones at a slightly superior point and runs medially and slightly inferiorly to insert into the ipsilateral alar cartilages of the nose. It acts to open the aperture of the nostril. If a patient complains of excessive nostril flaring, I will find and remove the portion of this muscle that attaches to the alar cartilages.

The other operation that you may be a candidate for is a conservative wedge resection of the outer nostril skin. This does not change the nostril size, but removes excess thick skin that may be contributing to the nostril width. I also recommend choosing an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon when considering rhinoplasty surgery.

Daniel Reichner, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Narrowing the nostrils can make a wide nose appear less wide


Narrowing the nostrils can make a wide nose appear less wide. The procedure to narrow the nostrils is called alar base reduction. Carefully done this scar can be minimized under the shadows of the nose or in the sill underneath the nostrils. With proper surgical technique, the size and shape of the ala can remain the same or be altered if one wishes to make them smaller. A wide nose itself requires narrowing of the tip as well as the middle of the nose and these procedures can all be done at the same time depending upon what the patient is trying to achieve. If you narrow the nostrils without narrowing a wide tip and/or a broad base, the nose will look funny and the nostrils will look unnatural so I suggest doing all of the procedures at the same time.

Scott Trimas, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Making an attactive nose

Without examining your nose, it is hard to make specific recommendations. In general, everybody's nose widens when we smile, some worse than others. If you have poor tip support, that is when you push the tip of your nose in towards your face, there is little resistance, you can improve the widening use by adding tip support. Many times by adding support to the nasal tip, there is no need to narrow the nostril. An alar base reduction (Weir excision) can be done at the same time or later under local anesthesia after the nose has healed. I treat the nose as a unit and narrowing the nose often gives a more refined, beautiful, and natural result.

Paul E. Chasan, MD
Del Mar Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Narrowing the nose when smiling

If your nose widens with smiling, this is animation. Muscles are pulling your nose laterally when you smile. I've treated this non-surgically in the past with Botox. Properly injected it can relax the muscles that cause this spreading.

Stephan Finical, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Wide nostril spacing with narrow openings can be adjusted

First, some good news!  It is very possible to narrow the nasal base without narrowing the nostrils.  

We generally consider the ideal width of the nose to be in a line dropped perpendicular to the inner eye position (medial canthus).  This is a generalization and will vary broadly depending upon ethnicity.

The procedure to narrow either the nostril or the width of the nose (or both!) is a very straightforward but technically demanding procedure named a WEIR BASE REDUCTION.  

Essentially the surgeon can remove a moon-shaped sliver of skin from the outer nose or nostril internal lining depending on what the individual goals may be.

The amount of skin and subcutaneous tissues to be removed must be planned conservatively and precisely using calipers for measurement.  Also, the incisions must be placed on the nose as just inside the crease where the nose joins the face to avoid webbing during healing.  

Surprisingly, if this is the only issue, this procedure could be done in office with local anesthesia probably in about a half-hour to 45 minutes.

Best of Luck and thank you for a great question.

Dr. Hobgood
Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon

Todd Christopher Hobgood, MD
Phoenix Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Making a nose appear thinner without changing nostril size...

This is a difficult question to answer without seeing some photos. The nose has muscle associated with it that can appear to widen the nose when smiling, and not much can be done about that. The appearance of a wide nose is usually due to the tip, and this can be improved to make it look thinner while retaining a natural appearance. Sometimes working on the tip can affect the size of the ala, but if the ala are brought in using Weirs excisions, then the nostril size will be reduced. The best thing to do is see a surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty for a good evaluation.

Andrew Miller, MD
Edison Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 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.