What is the Recovery Time and What Are the Risks of Alar Base Reduction?

I am thinking of having a secondary rhinoplasty to reduce my nasal width and was wondering what the risks of scarring were, the risks of uneven nostrils, and how long it is until i can have a natural smile again and its not obvious i have had surgery (ie can return unnoticed to work again). Thanks

Doctor Answers 4

Recovery time and risk of alar base reduction

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The alar base reduction procedure does address reducing the size and width of the nostrils.  If they are placed in the proper position the scarring should be very minimal.  In experienced hands unevenness should be minimal and the incisions are usually detectable for only the first couple of weeks after the procedure.  Full smiling and animation can be done within 2 weeks of the procedure.  The chance of keloids in the eyelid area is very rare due to how thin the skin is in that area.  The medial canthus surgery can result in more hypertrophic scarring and web formation if not performed correctly, usually not keloids.  

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Alar Base Reduction

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The incisions for an alar base reduction are carefully placed in the shadows of the normal alar crease.  If done well, the incisions generally heal without being too noticeable or visible.   The scars are minimized by carefully placed incisions, surgical technique when closing the incisions, and postoperative anti-scarring ointments.  Please consult with a board certified surgeon who can assist you to achieve the results you desire.  This is a procedure that can be done while you are awake.  Generally the sutures come out within a week.

Kimberly Lee, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Alar base reduction risks and recovery

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Besides the standard surgical risks of bleeding, infection, reaction to the anesthesia, etc. there are risks of scarring or asymmetry. Careful surgical planning and alar reduction are very important to maintain symmetry. Alar base wedge excisions typically create a scar in the very oily skin where the nostril meets the cheek. This skin can have more scarring than other parts of the face which can be treated with steroid injection and/or scar dermabrasion.

If you are only having alar base reduction the recovery isn't as long as a full rhinoplasty. The sutures used to close the nostril incisions are typically left in place for 1-2 weeks (this varies from surgeon to surgeon). You can get more specific expectations from the surgeon actually doing your surgery as that will likely be the most accurate.

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

Alar base reduction

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First, everyone has asymmetry and the alar bases are probaly asymmetric from the start.  Second the sutures that are used usually come out in a week.  Scarring is hard to predict but this area usually heals very well.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 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.