How Can I Reduce Nostril Flare or Size?

I like the size and shape of my nose, but I do not like how my nostrils flare up even when they are relaxed. I am part Latino, and I understand that nostril flare is common among non-white people. Is it possible to reduce only nostril flare (and leave the rest of the nose alone) during Rhinoplasty? What are special risks associated with this surgery? Is this a major surgery with a lot of downtime? Is it a common surgery? Relatively hard to perform? I've never had any reconstructive facial surgery before. Thank you very much in advance for any information!

Doctor Answers 15

Reducing Nostril Flaring

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This is commonly done, especially in patients of color, to reduce nostril flaring. It is called Alar Base resection. It is an incision on the outside of the nostril base which usually heals very well. One must be very careful when performing an Alar Base resection to prevent excess scarring and nostril asymmetry.

Dallas Plastic Surgeon

Flaring nostrils can be difficult to treat

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Flaring nostrils is a very difficult problem to deal with in the field of rhinoplasty. If there is a lot of notching upwards of the nostril rim, a compound graft of cartilage and skin can be taken from the ear and inserted up on the inside of the nostril to bring the flaring downwards. The wide nostrils can be narrowed with an alarplasty technique. The risks with this surgery are trying to get both nostrils perfectly even, which is difficult to do since there is cartilage and skin grafting performed. In addition to that, there is always preexisting asymmetries, and it is important not to exacerbate this during the surgery. Regarding the surgery itself, there is not a whole lot of downtime with this other than some sutures placed on the inside of the nose and up inside the crease of the upper portion of the ear.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 158 reviews


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Alar reduction or nostril narrowing can be done by itself and is a very minor procedure with very little bruising and swelling or down time.

But more importantly, it is the one aspect of a rhinoplasty that does leave a scar. Furthermore, you should do some computer imaging to see how your nose will look with the reduced nostrils just to make sure the tip wont look too big once the nostrils are reduced as they are closely related.

Good luck

Shervin Naderi, MD, FACS
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 119 reviews

Reduce the nasal base and nostril flare

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And it is certainly possible to reduce only the nostril flare and leave the rest of the nose alone. That being said, it is important to make sure the more narrow nasal base continues to be in proportion to the size of the tip. Often nasal flayer surgery (typically called "alar base reduction"), requires incisions placed on the outside of the nose hitting between the nostril and the cheek skin. Perform correctly, it leaves a relatively unnoticeable scar. Furthermore, the nostril size itself can be corrected and reshaped.

The limitation to nostril flare size narrowing is that the nostrils wide and upon smiling. The extent to which they wide and is due to the muscle action of the cheeks. This is a variable that cannot be corrected during surgery.

Philip J. Miller, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Nostril flare.

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Nostril flare is more pronouced in certain ethnic groups. Three anatomic components affect the nostril flare. 1) the length of the nostril from the tip of the nose to it's attachment to the face. 2) The width of the sill, ie. the distance from the outter columella to the inner allar margin. 3) the strength of the tip support. Each of these areas need to be evaluated and treated appropreatly to get the desired result.

Thomas Romo, III, MD, FACS
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

The easiest way to reduce nostril-show is often by shortening the septum

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The easiest way to reduce nostril-show is often by shortening the septum (the cartilagenous tissue that separates the right side from the left side of the nose). In this way, what is known as a “hanging collumella” is reduced so that the nostril is not so visible. This may occasionally require narrowing the base of the nostrils surgically, as well. Instead of “open rhinoplasty”, these procedures can be performed in a “closed” fashion.

Michael R. Macdonald, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Reducing Nostril Flare Creates Dramatic Results

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Nostril reduction surgery (called Alarplasty / Alar Base Reduction) is a commonly performed procedure that can narrow the width of the nostril base, decrease the amount of nostril flaring, or decrease the size of the nostrils.

How It Is Done:

  • To accomplish narrowing of the nostril base and nostril flaring, an alar base resection is performed by removing a crescent shape wedge of tissue from the nostril wall.
  • The incisions are placed in the crease where the nostril wall meets the cheek. When performed correctly, the scar is hidden in the "new" crease where the nostril meets the cheek.


  • It is possible to perform this procedure alone or as part of a rhinoplasty.
  • If performed alone, the recovery is fairly easy with minimal downtime. The stitches will remain in place for a week.
  • If performed in conjuction with a rhinoplasty, it does not add any additional recovery time.


  • The biggest risk for alar base reduction is scarring. If not performed correctly, the scars can cause notching of the nostril where it meets the cheek/lip.
  • The incisions can remain red for several weeks, but generally heal very well and are not noticable after that time.

C. Spencer Cochran, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 149 reviews

Reducing nostril flare

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Very good question.  Reducing nostril flare in my opinion is one of the hardest and most commonly incorrectly performed parts of a rhinoplasty.  First of all yes you can reduce your flaring without touching the rest of your nose and I do that often.  Second the pain and downtime is not too bad.  The key is to make sure your surgeon shows you many examples of his or her nostril reductions.  So often the nostrils are left mishapened asymmetric and over reduced. Once this happens it is nearly impossible to correct.  Ask to see what"s called the worms eye view or the base view from underneath.  This shows a lot of these irregularities.  Also make sure you look for the scars as many times it is visible hence defeating the purpose of having the procedure done.  

Good luck

Rady Rahban, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 142 reviews

Alar-plasty may be considered for reducing the size of flaring nostrils.

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In our experience, it is unusual for an isolated alarplasty to be performed without tip work - many with Hispanic flaring nostrils have oily tip skin and sometimes bulbous, droopy nasal tips.Feel free to re-ask your question with photos, or consider consulting with several rhinoplasty specialists so you could see what might be best for you.Hope this helps.Dr Joseph

Eric M. Joseph, MD
West Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 435 reviews

Reducing Nostrils with Rhinoplasty

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The surgery is performed using either an open or closed approach. During the open approach, the incision is made across the columella, the strip of skin that separates the two nostrils. A closed approach involves a hidden incision made inside the nose. Both approaches raise the soft tissue covering the nose allowing access to reshape the bone and soft tissue structures of the nose. The nose is reshaped either by adding cartilage or removing extra tissue or bone from the nose. The process involved in re-shaping your nose will be catered to your specific nose and will be discussed in your in person consultation.

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.