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!
How Can I Reduce Nostril Flare or Size?
Doctor Answers 14
Flaring nostrils can be difficult to treat
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.
Reducing Nostril Flaring
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.
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.
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Reduce the nasal base and nostril flare
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.
The easiest way to reduce nostril-show is often by shortening the septum
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.
Reducing Nostril Flare Creates Dramatic Results
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.