Ask a doctor

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 47

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 71 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.

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 101 reviews

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
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 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 10 reviews

Natural looking rhinoplasty

Having a natural looking nose that fits your facial features is important and achievable with modern rhinoplasty techniques. It is indeed possible to narrow the overall shape of the nose without affecting the width of the nostrils. 

Lara Devgan, MD, MPH
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Wide nostrils

I peeked at your profile photo, hopefully you don't mind. It appears that you have a slightly full (bulbous) nasal tip. Reduction in the size of the ala are possible, but yours did not appear widened in that photo.

If you are very averse to surgery you could try off label botox for the ala, though I have never done this and it could have temporary effects on breathing. That's really the only non-surgical approach I can think of (and I'm not really that excited about it).

A rhinoplasty can bring in a wide nose and also reduce the ala. This is done with fine sutures and cartilage removal for the former, and alar reduction with direct excision for the latter.

Wide nose

Wide nasal ala can certainly be narrowed and have the results remain natural.  It is normal for there to be some flare when someone smiles and laughs.  An exam would be necessary, but for many people, strengthening the tip of the nose or release of one of the muscles that attaches to the septum helps diminish tip droop as well as widening of the lower third of the nose with smiling.  See a rhinoplasty specialist who can evaluate your individual anatomy and review options to address your areas of concern.  All the best!

Sirius K. Yoo, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Yes, But It Is Tricky

Yes, but this is probably the trickiest aspect of rhinoplasty and needs to be done by an expert. The key is that you don’t want the nose to look like it is stuck to the face after the narrowing.

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 5 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 11 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.