Ethnic Rhinoplasty: Cosmetic Nose Enhancement With Ethnicity In Mind
Post originally published in March 10, 2014. Republished with new information provided by Dr. Cameron Erickson, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Cosmetic rhinoplasty procedures have the power to enhance the aesthetics of the nose, altering both size and shape to improve overall facial balance. In some cases, rhinoplasty also aims to improve the functional aspects of the nose, such as correcting a deviated septum. Ethnic rhinoplasty describes specialized rhinoplasty technique that are used for patients of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or Middle-Eastern descent.
What is Ethnic Rhinoplasty?
An ethnic rhinoplasty procedure is a specialized rhinoplasty procedure that is used for non-Caucasian people who wish to enhance the appearance of their nose while still preserving various characteristics that reflect their ethnicity. A skilled ethnic rhinoplasty surgeon understands the unique traits of the nose and uses compatible techniques to provide a balanced and harmonious result while preserving an overall ethnically-appropriate appearance.
Traditional vs. Ethnic Rhinoplasty
Traditional rhinoplasty techniques are most appropriate for people who have or desire Caucasian nose shapes. A Caucasian nose is defined as being narrow and high along the bridge. Non-Caucasian noses have other distinctive features, such as wide nostrils, bulbous tips, and thicker skin. Ethnic rhinoplasty takes your cultural heritage into consideration to ensure complementary facial features.
Goals of Ethnic Rhinoplasty
People who choose to have ethnic rhinoplasty do so for many of the same reasons as those who choose traditional rhinoplasty. A person may have a crooked nose, a bump, breathing problems, or an upturned nose tip. The key difference is that ethnic rhinoplasty maintains the distinct nose features of your ethnicity.
The primary goal of ethnic rhinoplasty is to address specific concerns you have about your nose without changing its overall character. Your surgical plan may include augmentation, projection correction, or nose reduction as follows:
Ethnic nose augmentation describes steps taken to change the proportions and angles of your nose. In most cases, this involves shifting the cartilage. The technique works well to improve the orientation and size of the nose tip.
Ethnic rhinoplasty projection techniques work best for patients who benefit from more defined nose profiles, such as those who have flatter noses. Cartilage is taken from the ribs or septum and used to build up the bridge of the nose. The width of the nose isn’t changed, but your nose looks narrower along the bridge.
Removing bone and cartilage from the interior makes your nose look smaller. The technique works best for patients with noses that protrude significantly from the face.
Areas of the Nose Improved with Ethnic Rhinoplasty
Ethnic rhinoplasty is tailored to the needs of the patient. Generally, speaking, the nasal dorsum, nasal tip, and nasal base/alar base are considered for surgical enhancement.
The nasal dorsum, also known as the nasal ridge, describes that area along the bridge of your nose. Certain ethnicities have flat, wide nasal dorsa, and the nose has little projection from the face. Typically, nose projection techniques work best in these cases. Cartilage is added along the dorsum to give it more definition and height.
The nasal tip, also known as the nose bulb, is the fleshy area between your nostrils. Ethnic rhinoplasty is recommended for patients who have a flat, under-projected, or short nose tip. Adding cartilage to this part of your nose gives it more definition.
Nasal Base/Alar Base Reduction
The nasal base is the length from the inside outer edge of one nostril to the inside outer edge of the other nostril. The alar base describes the thickness of the skin on the outer edges of your nostrils. Many ethnic nose shapes have wide nasal and alar bases while the bridge of the nose is relatively narrow. Base reduction surgery reduces the nostril size and narrows the nose shape near the nasal tip.
Types of Ethnic Rhinoplasty
Ethnic rhinoplasty is performed in a way that improves the shape, size, and function of your nose while ensuring that the results blend perfectly with your other facial features. In order to achieve the most natural results, careful consideration is given to your individual ethnicity.
African American Rhinoplasty
African-American features of the nose include a bulbous or poorly-defined tip and a relatively flat, low bridge. Nostrils tend to be more round than other ethnicities, and the skin is thicker. Nose surgery for African-Americans typically focuses on reducing nasal and alar widths at the base of the nose which may also improve the shape of the nostrils. Cartilage may be used to give the nasal tip a more defined appearance.
Hispanic ethnicity includes a range of cultures from around the world, such as Spain, Cuba, Central America, Mexico, South America, and Puerto Rico. Ethnicities from these parts of the world have distinctive facial features. People with Spanish heritage tend to have defined humps along the bridge of the nose and downturned nose tips. Wide bridges and nostrils are features of people from South America, and people from Latin America may have features of Europeans and Native Americans. Techniques for Hispanic rhinoplasty may include nose augmentation to correct a hump along the bridge, techniques to enhance the nasal tip and nostril size, and nasal base/alar base reduction.
People of Asian descent tend to have poorly defined noses with flat bridges, indiscernible nose tips, and thicker skin. Asian rhinoplasty reshapes the cartilage to give the bridge more definition. Cartilage grafts may be used to add volume and structure to the nasal tip. For Asian patients who desire a more westernized appearance, cartilage grafts are added along the ridge of the nose.
Middle Eastern Rhinoplasty
A Middle Eastern nose is defined by a slight arch from the bridge to the tip. Thicker skin and a deviated septum are also common among people from the Middle East. Ethnic rhinoplasty for people of Middle Eastern descent gives the nose tip a more defined appearance and may improve breathing.
Can Some Ethnic Traits Be Preserved?
The overarching goal of ethnic rhinoplasty is to preserve specific characteristics of your nose while balancing facial features. You decide the extent to which your nose shape and size are changed, including the aspects that are specific to your ethnicity.
Will Ethnic Rhinoplasty Narrow My Nostrils?
Ethnic nose surgery includes techniques to improve the size and shape of your nostrils. In some cases, the changes are entirely cosmetic. People who have round nostrils may find it easier to breathe after their nostrils are given an oval shape.
Ideal Candidates for Ethnic Rhinoplasty
Ethnic rhinoplasty is best for people who want to improve specific areas of the nose while maintaining a natural ethnic appearance. Like other plastic surgery procedures, the ideal candidates for ethnic rhinoplasty are individuals in good overall general health who have no previous surgical complications. It’s also critical for perspective patients to have proper expectations for what outcomes the procedure can provide.
Recovery from Ethnic Rhinoplasty
The ethnic rhinoplasty recovery experience is very similar to recovering from traditional rhinoplasty. Most patients can expect to have bruising, swelling, and discomfort immediately following the procedure. Any pain or discomfort will be controlled via prescribed pain medication. While the length of recovery depends on the extent of the procedure, most patients can return to normal daily activity within 7 days of surgery, and moderate physical activity within a month.
Does Medical Insurance Cover Ethnic Rhinoplasty?
Unfortunately, most medical insurance plans will not cover ethnic rhinoplasty as they will deem the procedure solely cosmetic in nature. However, if the procedure is performed to correct breathing issues (as is the case with a severely deviated septum) the procedure may be deemed medically necessary and some insurance providers may cover all or some of the costs. It’s vital to check with your insurance carrier to verify coverage and limitations.
Every Nose Is Unique
Every rhinoplasty surgery is different as every nose is unique. While the focus of rhinoplasty should be to enhance the beauty of your nose, a huge factor of success is making sure the alterations to the nose complement other facial characteristics. Ethnic rhinoplasty just features an additional emphasis on making sure the procedure provides an outcome that works with your natural ethnic look.