Was an Ear Cartilage Graft Necessary in This Rhinoplasty Scenario?

I suffered an injury to my nose which pushed the cartilage to the side; my nose had a twisted appearance as a result. I had a rhinoplasty to help improve the appearance, i.e., to redistribute cartilage to the other side to achieve balance. To do this my surgeon took ear cartilage to the left side. Was this necessary to rebuild the nose? Couldn't the excess cartilage from the right have been taken to use instead? Or, is it impossible to use certain cartilage once it has been injured?

Doctor Answers 10

Ear Cartilage Grafts Common for Nose Surgery

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The use of ear cartilage grafts is common in rhinoplasty. Since your nose suffered trauma, cartilage in your nose may have shifted or been damaged so simply moving it from one side to another may carry its own complications. In some cases it may be necessary to use conchal cartilage harvested from behind the ear. By grafting healthy ear cartilage, the graft can provide support and adequately reshape the nose. It is difficult to determine a proper donor site without an in-person consultation. Since you’ve already undergone this procedure, it’s best to contact your surgeon to discuss any post-operative concerns you have.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

Ear Cartilage Grafts in Rhinoplasty Surgery

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The use of ear cartilage grafts in rhinoplasty surgery after nasal trauma is an acceptable  technique. It is impossible to answer your question without evaluating pictures and examining you after the accident. There are always alternative techniques, but all that really counts is the final result.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Very reasonable to use ear cartilage

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It is very reasonable to use ear cartolage for your needs.  Be sure to discuss your concerns with your surgeon.

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Was an ear cartilage graft necessary

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It is really hard to say whether ear cartilage was "necessary" in your case without being there during your surgery. Ear cartilage is a common grafting source during rhinoplasty, especially if extra support is needed. Septum is commonly used as well but given your injury additional material may have been needed.

It isn't our role here to second guess your surgeon. You could certainly ask your surgeon to explain why ear cartilage was needed. I suspect he or she would be happy to explain it for you.

Thomas A. Lamperti, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Ear cartilage graft for nose reconstruction was needed!

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You partially answered your own question when you stated that the injury "pushed the cartilage to the side." The injury didn't cause your body to build "extra" cartilage where it wasn't needed; rather, the force to the nose distorted normal cartilage structures into a new, "twisted," abnormal position. Layering grafts of cartilage from the septum or ear is a very common way of bringing new tissue into the nose to improve appearance where damaged cartilage is still needed for support and cannot or should not be used.

Cartilage is needed to provide a framework for the overlying skin, and even damaged cartilage has a role in keeping nostrils open and airways patent--you can't just remove it from one side and use it elsewhere, as there is still a need for support and structural rigidity that even injured cartilage provides. But, grafting can restore or improve appearance while preserving whatever structural support remains. So, we look for cartilage grafts elsewhere, where we can safely "borrow" a piece while still preserving the structural support of the donor area. The ear is a great donor site on both counts.

Trust your surgeon's judgment! That's why we constantly recommend properly-trained, board-certified plastic surgeons or ENT specialists in rhinoplasty surgery--this takes experience as well as training!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 262 reviews

Ear cartilage grafts and rhinoplasty surgery.

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The most common location to harvest cartilage for rhinoplasty grafts is the partition between the left and right nose, called the septum.  Septal cartilage is typically the preferred cartilage becuase it is firm and straight.  However, sometimes a pre curved graft, such as ear cartilage, are preferred for the sepcific problem at hand.  Why your surgeon choose ear cartilage is best answered by them, but the use of ear cartilage grafts in rhinoplasty are common. 

Best, Dr. Phil

Philip J. Miller, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Cartilage is often "borrowed" from the ear to shape/ support the nose during rhinoplasty

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Cartilage is often "borrowed" from the ear to shape/ support the nose during rhinoplasty. This is incredibly common. Depending on the necessary maneuvers cartilage is taken from inside the nose (the septum, most common), the back of the ear and if large amounts of cartilage are needed or no other cartilage source is available, the rib. Taken cartilage from "one side" of the nose to rebuild the other side is typically inadequate as you need significant added structure to resupport and reshape the deviated or twisted nose.

Stephen Weber MD, FACS

Was ear cartilage grfat necessary in my Rhinoplasty?

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 I have performed Rhinoplasty for over 20 years and I understand that this may be had for you to understand but that type of question is impossible for anyone here to answer.  We did not see you before your Rhinoplasty and were not present during that procedure.  

 You really need to have faith in your Rhinoplasty surgeon and his/her decisions because this is what you paid them to do.  Medicine and surgery is not cookbook.  Every surgeon does things differently, so what I would do during a Rhinoplasty, others may do differently.  Which is right or better....it really depends on opinions and IMHO, the u;ltimate results which always speak for themselves.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Ear cartilage as a source for rhinoplasty

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It is difficult to say whether your rhinoplasty needed cartilage grafts from the ear, though your surgeon certainly considered all material available, and used what he thought would give the best result. Sometimes the septum does not have what is needed, and the 'trimmings' from one side as the nose is straightened do not have the strength, size, or thickness to fill in where required. Injury can affect what is needed, and when necessary surgeons may look to the ear.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Cartilage for revision rhinoplasty

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crooked noses have memory in the cartilage region. ie they try to go back crooked once fixed. crooked noses usually require grafts to camoflage the assymetry. The ear is a very popular spot to use as donor site. Usually you can not use the cartilage from the other side of the nose as it is malformed as well.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 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.