Rhinoplasty with Ear Cartilage Graft

I originally had a septoplasty performed in August...

I originally had a septoplasty performed in August 2008 by a plastic surgeon that was recommended to me by another doctor. Let me just say that the left side of my nose caved in or collapsed, which caused signifant breathing trouble, It's debatable as to whether my nose was already experiencing "valve collapse" prior to my surgery in 2008 - however I do know that the septoplasty left me both breathing and looking worse than I had prior. Also, at no point during any of my pre or post-opp visits was I told my problems were due to any type of collapse. I was told it was just swelling and a deviated septum.

As for my rhinoplasty on April 7 2009 which this review was intended for: I want to stress to anyone considering rhinoplasty, septoplasty or anything to the nose. Please seek out not just a cosmetic/plastic surgeon but a facial plastic surgeon who specializes in this particular area. It's serious business. Fortunately I found a facial plastic surgeon who is also a very prominent ENT in the city who could perform a revision. I am only 4 days post-opp so I will have to update my progress.

The surgery went rather smoothly, though it took about four hours. I had a functional rhinoplasty which included cartilage grafting from my left ear to prop up the side of my nose that collapsed. I also had my turbinates slightly reduced and a hump shaved down. (I figured it's my second surgery so why not!) I did not expect it to be as painful post-op as it has been the past few days. My orginal septoplasty was a bit irritating as I felt stuffed up, but not painful. This time, my ear hurt terribly as well as pain in my nose and upper lip/teeth and gum area. Now on day 4 I've reduced drastically my use of pain medication and ice packs. My swelling and bruising was horrendous at first but has reduced as well.

I am so relieved to finally have this procedure, but it is so much better to have it done right the first time. It will save you money and emotional stress in the end if you do your research from the beginning! I have learned a lot from this experience and am hoping for the best at this point.

Updated on Apr 13, 2009: Hardy any bruising or swelling beyond the tip, which I'm told could take a while to resolve. I discontiunued any pain medication including tylenol on day 5.  Although I'm a bit weary to due to my previous experience, I must admit I do breathe 100% better even on day 6. My surgery appears to be a success. No further instructions except a follow-up visit in 6 weeks.

Updated 6-9-09: Nose still seems a bit swollen or maybe it's larger than I'm used to.  IMO it looks much worse in pictures than it does in person. I'm still being told not to judge a rhinoplasty - certainly not one that was reconstructive -- until a full 12 months has passed since the surgery.

This exerience has been a roller coaster and I'll say it again : Please do your homework and make sure your doc has the experience, reputation, credentials..etc to do what you desire. Ask for pictures. Ask tons of questions. I do, and maybe that's annoying, but it gets us all on the same page. Anyhow, my revision Rhinoplasty has been a success. I will wait till a full year to judge too much on the appearance. However, it is amazing to be able to breathe through my nose now. Even the silliest thing - I felt bad that I couldn't give my husband a nice long kiss because I'd be gasping for air!! Now that's all changed!

It's been some time and I still have swelling and...

It's been some time and I still have swelling and width to my nose. Overall, I can breathe - this is paramount. However, I paid (out of pocket) for a cosmetic procedure as well as functional and cannot say I'm satisfied.

I personally do not believe the surgeon listened to my concerns and was frankly belittling most of the time. I believe a physician who performs cosmetic procedures should work with the patient to be on the same page - this is not heart surgery and he was not saving my life in the ER. As the patient, my input or concerns should have been addressed or at least acknowdged.

Instead, I was actually insulted on a couple occasions. And yes I still went through with the surgery and paid him because I believed he was the best in the area. Note to self...

I consulted a different facial plastic surgeon on...

I consulted a different facial plastic surgeon on 9/17/09 and he gave me the bad news - the width in my nose and the bulbous tip aren't likely to resolve to my liking. Therefore, I'll probably go for my third (and hopefully last) surgery and revision. Honestly, I feel what was once a functional issue is now making me feel "less pretty" due outcomes of my surgeries. It's not like I was born with a bulbous nose w/ a slightly droopy tip. It's hard to accept when you pay out of pocket for these things and they are unsatisfactory. I'm not looking forward to forking over another several grand, but instead of letting it eat at me, I'm just going to take action and go forward.  I've come this far so I'm not about to settle for mediocre, and hope my revision will finally put my face in balance. Wish me luck & good luck to everyone as well  :-)

Was this review helpful? 10 others found this helpful

Comments (19)

Sort by

Hi RKris, I know it has been a long time since you posted anything, but I have just read your story which is similar to my situation. I hope you are still on the site and can answer some of my questions. As I understand it, you had a spreader grafts made from ear cartilage inserted on one side of your nose. I have a few questions for you. How is your nose now? How much width was added? Did you have any other grafts inserted? How is your breathing now? Do you feel the grafts today? Do you see the grafts? thanks, Louis
  • Reply
Hi Maureen, I definitely think my nose looks wide, especially near where the graft was placed. However, yours might still be pretty swollen given that you're only 7 weeks post-opp. I know mine was!! However, I'm 5 months out now and beginning to think I might need a revision to thin it out.
  • Reply
I hope you get this since it's been a long time, but just wondering if your nose ever got narrow after the graft or did you get a revision to correct it. It's been 14 months since I got my graft and my bridge is wide. Dr. said he would have to rebreak it to correct the situation. My nostrils are also flared. I think the graft settled too much. If you get this, please reply. Thanks
  • Reply
Milo - during the week post-surgery, I'm quite sure my breathing wasn't so good with the splints. However, my nose was completely collapsed on my left side prior and I could barely breathe through my nose for several years. It's all relative, I suppose. Also, I was probably more concerned with the painful ear, nose and my jaw popped out of joint. (I have TMJ and that's another story). About my ear - if it's closer to my head now, it's neither obvious or concerning. In fact, the only thing that impresses me about this surgery is that a doctor can cut out cartilage from the ear that appears so similar to the nose. I will tell you that for a week post-surgery, my ear really stuck out "cauliflower style" - guess it was just so swollen? I don't know, but I was worried it would stay that way. It didn't.
  • Reply
I am 7 weeks post surgery. Had cadavier graft for sunken septum (saddle nose deformity)from a former septoplasty after a fracture. The width looks wide an the nostrils feel hard and look wide. I was wondering if you have the same?
  • Reply
Hi RKris, thank you for your response. My Dr. told me that outer edge of my ear will be about 2 milimeters closer to my head because of taking graft from it. That's what I meant when I asked you about any change of your ear. You said you had packages removed after seven days??? Did you have problem breathing for that 7 days? Or you were breathing with your mouth open? Was it hard to have it in your nose for seven days? thanks
  • Reply
Hi Milo, The graft was taken from the inner rim of my ear and frankly isn't even noticeable anymore post-surgery (almost 5 months). I will say that I found the ear wound to be much more painful than my nose during the first week of recovery. I wasn't expecting that. Of course it was swollen for a week or so but very little trouble afterwards. I had my splints removed from my nose 1 week after surgery. As far as I know there was no piece of plastic placed in my nose. I have healed quite well, though as I've said there is still swelling in the tip area.
  • Reply
Dear RKris, Thank you for your post, I read it and I find it very informative. I am waiting for similar precedure, it's already booked (with using graft from ear cratilage). My nose tip cartlage is collapsing and it makes my nostrils more narrow in the area closer to the tip, so it affects my breathing. That happens because my tip cartilages were trimmed too much during previous nose jobs and now they need more support which is why graft from my ear is needed. My Dr. recommended open rhinoplasty, so he will be able to see better tip area and approach it easier. My questions for you are: First, how taking graft from your ear affected your ear? Did anything change about your ear and how? Second, For how long did you have packages in your nose after the surgery and did you maybe have piece of plastic put in your nose to prevent tissues to heal together after the surgery (I had that last time i did nose surgery and kept it in for two weeks)? Thank you
  • Reply
I had septoplasty in May and my nose also collapsed. The Dr. who did the Septo did not menton is was collapsed. He also said it was swollen until I went back and told him my nose appearance did change and looks sunk. I then went to a plastic surgeon and he did notice it was sunk and called it a"saddle nose". It looks terrible. Changed my whole appearance. This morning I'm leaving for surgery to have this corrected. I will be getting a cadavier cart. instead of a rib graft. I will be staying overnight since I live over 2 hours from this hospital.
  • Reply
Thank you! It was mainly functional, but I also had a bump of cartilage on my tip. I later found out that this little deformity was due to the collapse. So yes I had one even before my first surgery. Basically: my surgeon made no mention of this (or did he not know?) and performed a septoplasty that may have compromised the integrity of my nose even more. He did say that he could improve the bump by manipulating the cartilage (this was no tip rhinoplasty - this was something that cost $50 surgeons fee) Needless to say, the tip did not improve and sadly looked worse because my overall conditioned worsened. Despite good intentions, this whole thing was so unnecessary. Functional nasal surgery is covered by my insurance so no shortcuts were needed for me.
  • Reply
You look great now! I have a question: when you had the first septoplasty, was the surgeon supposed to do anything cosmetic to your nose? Or did the collapse happen as a result of only a functional septoplasty?
  • Reply
I think Im having the same problem that you had. I feel like my right nostril has caved in. Im also having some breathing problems from my right nostril. Did your nostril feel like there was a lump inside? Look at my pic and tell me what you think please.
  • Reply

Hi ccc415,

RKris opted not to give the name of her provider, but you may click on her username and contact her by selecting the envelope icon to ask if she will reveal it privately to you.

  • Reply
What is your doctor's name?
  • Reply
Please update us on your progress! Best of luck.
  • Reply
I just uploaded a pic of my ear post opp. I still don't know what a spreader is, but the area does not appear to look any different than my other one. It's slightly red due to healing.
  • Reply
Spreader in the ear graft. Is there any kind of bump there?
  • Reply
Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what a "spreader" is, but I can tell you there is nothing sticking out. I'm a bit amazed that I look so normal less than 2 weeks post opp. A little swelling, but my nose isn't lopsided anymore and I can't breathe.
  • Reply
Do you have the spreader sticking out?..cuz I do....2 weeks post op.
  • Reply