Will Alar Reduction Reduce Nostril Width?

I have had Rhinoplasty 10 years ago. I like my profile, but I still feel self-conscious about the thick width of my nostrils. They really are thick. I understand that the 'alar reduction' will narrow the base, but what about the nostrils? Is it risky because of the scarring? Thank you for your time.

Doctor Answers 17

Narrowing the nostrils

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In reading your question, it appears that your main concern is the thickness of the nostril skin rather than width of the nostrils.

Debulking the thickness of a nostirl is actually a more challenging surgical procedure, than narrowing the nostrils. When the nostril skin is too thick, an option would be filleting the nostril along the rim, removing some tissue, and closing the incision. Such procedure carries a relatively high risk of noticeable scaring. Make certain that you can look at some examples of such work before agreeing to have the procedure.

New York Facial Plastic Surgeon

Alar reduction will narrow base of nose

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An alar reduction or alar plasty will narrow the base of the nose but will not thin the actual alar rim itself. This is the fleshy skin part of the nostril that cannot be reduced due to risk of scarring. The width of the actual nostrils can be reduced by removing a small portion of skin of the nostrils attached to the floor of the nose.

Alar reduction and nostril width

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Dear Sashabobo,

Your question can be interpreted in three different ways.

You may be complaining of:

1. the thickness of the nostril skin being too great - Defatting the nostrils to reduce their thickness is not done by many of us because of potential loss of the skin and potential dimpling scarring

2. The distance between the nasal alae being too great - Can be reduced with a permanent suture under the base of the nose pulling the alae together.
3. The Nostrils themselves are too large - can be reduced with a wedge (Weir) excision which will reduce the curvature. The scar is barely visible and is placed just above the junction of the nostril (ala) with the cheek skin. It can be done under local anesthesia.

I hope this was helpful.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

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Wide, flared, or thick nostrils

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Nostril reduction can change the shape or size of the nostrils in several different ways depending on one's goals.

For wide nostrils, in which the side to side distance from one nostril base to the other is too much, the width can be reduced. This can be done by removing some of the skin and soft tissue at the floor (lower part) of the nostril and closing the gap with careful suturing.

For flared nostrils in which the curvature of the nostrils is too much, removing a wedge (crescent) of skin and soft tissue from the nostril base can create a straigter appearance. Although an external incision is required, the scar hides in the crease between the nose and cheek.

For thick notril walls, the nostril tissue and skin can be thinned by removing a portion between the external and internal skin. The incision and resultant scar is along the rim of the nostril and only visible from beneath the nose.

Many individuals have a combination of these problems and may need more than one technique. The surgeon should always proceed conservatively. One can always remove more tissue, but cannot easily replace tissue that has been overly reduced.

Visible scars are a real risk with nostril reduction. The majority of patients heal well after such procedures as long as the surgeon is mericulous with the technique and closure. if a scar turns out unfavorably, other treatments are available to improve the scar, such as steroid injection, laser treatment or resurfacing.

Nostril Reduction

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Modifications of the alar reduction prcedures can decrease the width of the nostrils to meet the needs of each patient. While there is a risk of scarring, I personally would have the surgery if it is indicated.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Rhinoplasty can adjust nostril size and shape safely

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There is a lot of emphasis and discussion in nasal shaping or rhinoplasty concerning the shape of the tip of the nose, the nasal hump, or the nasal length. It is harder to find information about correcting the size of the nostril, the height, the width, or heaviness of the ala, the skin and tissue of the outer rim of the nose. Certainly, all of these components must be factored in to complete a well balanced attractive nasal shape. Many of the techniques in shaping the nostril are based on what cosmetic surgeons refer to as a Weir procedure. Skin is removed from the base of the nostril in a pattern which is specifically designed to make the changes necessary. The height of the nostril can be reduced, the width, or even the thickness of the side of the nostril the ala. There is a risk of a visible scar though the risk is small especially considering the substantial improvement such a small adjustment can make.

Best of luck,


Reducing the size of you nostrils

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Alar reduction is a great procedure, but scarring can occur. Even though the risk is low, it's still a risk. Make sure you look at some before and after photos of what an alar reduction looks like. With good surgical technique, you shouldn't have too many problems with narrowing of the nostrils. Good luck!

Alar reduction

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Alar surgery can accomplish different things. It can treat flaring oif the nostrils, wide nostrils as well. You can also have surgery to debul the thickness of the nostrils as well.

Alar Reduction

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I assume what you are relating to is the width of the nostrils.  They can be reduced with an incision that is based just at the junction of the nostril and the cheek.  If you are talking about the thickness of the nostrils itself that is a completely different issue.

Posting a photo would help greatly.

Reducing the thickness of the nostrils is risky

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The width of the nostrils can be nicely improved with alar base reductions using incisions which can be hidden. In order to thin the nostril itself, a cut has to be made on the undersurface of the nostril that may possibly result in a scar that can be noticed. If it doesn't heal correctly, then little asymmetries may be noticed. Be sure to discuss these things with your surgeon and determine if the risks are worth it. I generally try to take as little risk as possible in plastic surgery.

Good luck.

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.