Can an Alar Reduction Compromise Breathing?

Doctor Answers 15

Nostril Reduction is Unlikely to Cause Congestion

The narrowest part of the nasal airway is called the "internal nasal valve" and its located just inside the nose.  Any changes to the size of the airway at this location has the greatest impact on the efficiency of the nasal airway.  The nostrils themselves are not at this critical "bottleneck" and are less likely to cause congestion if altered.  Typically, nostril size can be reduced very effectively without causing obstruction. That being said, however, any experienced rhinoplasty surgeon that makes nostrils smaller with alar base reduction must still be careful so as not to contribute a sense of congestion to their rhinoplasty patient, and to close the incisions meticulously so as to keep the scarring invisible.  I would not recommend having alar base reduction with an inexperienced rhinoplasty surgeon. 

Baltimore Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Alar reduction

Alar reduction typically refers to excisions of the nasal sill or nostril excisions to reduce nasal tip width.  This usually does not result in breathing difficulties since the external nasal valve is not compromised by this procedure.

John Michael Thomassen, MD
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Can an alar reduction compromise breathing?

Alar reduction, if performed in a conservative fashion, will not create a breathing problem.  It is also important to make sure that there is no underlying preexisting abnormality such as a deviated septum or valve collapse that are already restricting the airflow through the nose.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 143 reviews

Does narrowing the base of the nose cause problems breathing?

The short answer is very unlikely. Your nostrils are not the narrow part of your respiratory tract. That part is about an inch back from the nostril opening and is called 'the nasal valve'. Therefore the base of your nose can be narrowed, usually as much as needed without compromising your breathing. If the narrowing is excessive, then you would expect not only trouble breathing but an abnormal appearance.

Oakley Smith, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Can Alar Reduction Compromise Nasal Breathing?

Alar reduction could compromise nasal breathing but not when the surgery is done by an experienced rhinoplasty surgeon. Select a surgeon who does a lot of ethnic surgery.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Alar reduction

Reducing the ala, the part of your nose that is the outside wall of your nostril, is often shortened in an alar reduction.  Yes, it can decrease your airway.  It must be done very carefully.

Stuart H. Bentkover, MD
Boston Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Can a alar reduction compromise breathing?

Hello, it not likely that a alar reduction would compromise breathing. I must advise you to schedule a consultation with a Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon. Good luck to you.

David Alessi, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Alar Base Reduction and Breathing

Anything is possible but a correctly performed alar base reduction will doubtful give you any airway difficulty.

Robert Kearney, MD, FACS
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Alar reduction and breathing

It is doubtful that an alar base reduction would cause airway difficulty unless the lumen was significantly compromised.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Alar reduction can restrict breathing

Alar reduction can absolutely restrict breathing.  Resistance to airflow increases exponentially as the airway is narrowed, so a small change in diameter of the nasal openings can have a major impact on breathing.


A properly designed and properly executed alar reduction, especially if performed on a wide nose, should not have too great an impact on nasal airway movement.  Make sure you are using a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  Be sure to review a complete portfolio of his or her own work so you can gauge what types of results are reasonable to expect. 

Daniel Greenwald, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 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.