Quick Facts about Ethnic Rhinoplasty: Interview with Dr. Rod Rohrich

A. Foley on 3 Sep 2010 at 6:02pm

A trend we've seen on RealSelf are questions and discussions by people who request information using terms like "Hispanic rhinoplasty", "African American Rhinoplasty", and "Asian Rhinoplasty" (like this).  

To learn more about what is commonly referred to as "ethnic rhinoplasty", we  contacted Dr. Rod Rohrich, a plastic surgeon who has lectured across the world about rhinoplasty surgery and is regarded by peers as a top opinion leader in this area.  Dr. Rohrich is the Professor and Chairman of the Department of Plastic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

1)  Many questions posted to our site relate to what is referred to as "ethnic rhinoplasty." What does this mean, from the perspective of a plastic surgeon?

Dr. Rohrich: Ethnic rhinoplasty is considered a type of specialty rhinoplasty, like secondary or revision rhinoplasty. When we talk about ethnic rhinoplasty, we are talking about both the differences in the surgical approach to an ethnic nose as well as the way you approach and analyze this type of nose to retain its ethnic origin.

Dr Rod Rohrich, UT Southwestern Plastic Surgery Department Chairman

2) What makes ethnic rhinoplasty different from nose surgery conducted on, say, caucasians?

Dr. Rohrich:  It is very important to understand that true ethnic rhinoplasty focuses on preserving ethnic qualities of the nose while reshaping it. A person’s nose is a defining ethnic facial characteristic and it should not be the intention of the surgeon to significantly alter those basic ethnic features. Surgeons must take great care to maintain the patient’s ethnic harmony.

3) Is an ethnic rhinoplasty a challenging surgical procedure?

Dr. Rohrich: There are several challenges with ethnic rhinoplasty which are not present in a more traditional rhinoplasty and make it a more difficult type of surgery.

  • The skin is usually thicker, which can obscure the underlying structures of the nose and make it more difficult to predict the results.
  • The nasal framework tends to be more delicate, requiring more care and often necessitates the use of cartilage grafts to achieve good results.
  • Darker skin requires more care of the incisions during closure to help minimize scarring.

Overall, ethnic rhinoplasty often requires a more complex and elaborate surgery in order to be successful.

4) How do you find the right doctor for an ethnic rhinoplasty?

Dr Rohrich: If you are seeking a plastic surgeon which has expertise in ethnic rhinoplasty make sure you do your research very well. A true expert in this area has written about it, lectures on this topic, and teaches others how to perform this type of surgery. Look though the doctor’s CV and note any publications and courses he has given on Ethnic Rhinoplasty, which might also be listed as Non-Caucasian Rhinoplasty.

5) Will any plastic surgeon perform an ethnic rhinoplasty?

Dr. Rohrich: As plastic surgeons, we are focused on getting good results and many will not attempt to perform ethnic rhinoplasty, preferring instead to refer them to a surgeon that regularly performs these difficult procedures. This is why there are not many rhinoplasty surgeons which are highly experienced in ethnic rhinoplasty in the USA.

Image Credit: Oleh Slupchynskyj, NYC Facial Plastic Surgeon