Thick Nose Skin or Excess Cartilage?

Is there a way to tell if I have thick skin on my nose or if it is cartilage?

Doctor Answers 12

Thick Nose Skin or Excess Cartilage

Assuming you have not had nasal surgery in the past, your nose possibly has a combination of both.

Feel your ear and you can feel the cartilage, now feel the cheek. You can tell the difference between both now.

It will be easy for a rhinoplasty surgeon to tell by examining if you have a combination of both thick skin and excess cartilage or more cartilage than skin. In either case your nose can be improved by surgery.


Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

Thick skin or excess cartilage

The way to tell the difference between thick skin and cartilage on the nasal tip is to perform a physical examination and feel the actual cartilages themselves. Sometimes it is very difficult to tell, but an experienced surgeon will be able to make the differential diagnosis. Performing a rhinoplasty on thick skin can be challenging since it will completely blanket and cover the new cartilaginous framework of the nose making it difficult to determine an excellent result from that.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 143 reviews

Thick Nasal Skin

It is impossible to give you insight to determine whether  you have thick skin or excess cartilage, or both. You must have an examination by an experienced, certified rhinoplasty surgeon. 

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

We can usually tell on your exam

During your consultation, we can usually tell by examining you what your actually anatomy is-- this is relatively straightforward. Different skin types also tend to have different levels of thickness and quality, but whether or not you have significant cartilages can also be determined at the time of your exam.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 149 reviews

Hard to tell

In general, individuals of darker skin types usually have thick skin and wide cartilages in the tip of the nose. This is only a generalization.

Other individuals may have a variety of thicknesses of skin and cartilage. The best way to determine this is to undergo an examination by a plastic surgeon. Sometimes pinching the skin can reveal just how thick it is. Determining the quality, size and shape of the cartilages takes much more experience and practice.

John Diaz, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Have your nose checked by a Rhinoplasty specialist.

The relative thickness of the skin of your nose, along with the underlying cartilage can be examined, and properly identified by an experienced, board-certified rhinoplasty specialist.

If you'd like to change the appearance of your nose, make sure to see many photos demonstrating favorable results before moving forward.

I hope this helps, and best regards.

Eric M. Joseph, MD
West Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 418 reviews

Thick skin versus cartilage in the nose


Without an examination by a surgeon, it's hard to determine exactly if what you are seeing is thick skin or cartilage in the nose. However, if you have prominent pores on your nose, chances are the skin is thick. Similarly, darker skin, as in African-Americans and Middle Easterners, tends to be thicker on the nose. Caucasian patients are more likely to have prominent cartilage if they see fullness on the tip of the nose. Keep in mind that these are generalizations only and may not apply to you. The treatment for both cases is very different, so be sure to visit a surgeon who is experienced in rhinoplasty. Good luck.

Nina S. Naidu, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

See a rhinoplasty specialist.

 He can tell by examining your nose if you have thick skin and or cartilage responsible to a large tip. Look at good before/after photos of his work since that is the type of nose he does.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Nasal tip thick cartilage or skin

The distinction of thick skin vs. thick lower lateral (tip) cartilages should not be your major concern. You should focus on picking an experienced plastic surgeon and discuss with him/her what nasal feature you would like to see improved or refined.

A rhinoplasty surgeon would readily determine this for you and based on YOUR wishes will use the surgical techniques best suited to shape the nose accordingly.

Personally, I like the patient to bring in photographs of noses he/she likes AND hates. That gives me a clear idea of what you may be looking for. I also have you analyze your own set of pre-operative photographs -- asking you to be "the surgeon" and modify the nose to your liking.

Based on this information, I would then suggest to you which surgical techniques may be most likely to produce the results you seem interested in.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Rhinoplasty can address thick skin or thick cartilage

There are techniques in rhinoplasty which can address thick skin, or large heavy cartilages in the nasal tip. As a rule in nasal shape the two rarely seem to coexist. Those patients with the thickest skin tend to have the thinnest cartilages, and those with the thickest or heaviest tip cartilage seem to have thinner skin making the cartilages most visible.

The approach to nasal shaping in patients with thick skin relies on adding support to the skin to develop tip shape and definition. When the cartilage is large and firm the approach is just the opposite, shaping and reducing the cartilage support to give the desired shape and definition (expertly so as the thin skin shows all imperfections).

A surgeon well trained and experienced in rhinoplasty will easily be able to distinguish between the two, and guide you to a great result.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 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.