Ethnic Rhinoplasty: Enhancing Your Heritage
Reviewed by Paul S. Nassif, MD
Ethnic rhinoplasty is the broad term used to describe cosmetic nose surgery performed on non-Caucasians. It's a specialty that has come into its own in recent years as plastic surgery has become more popular among ethnic minorities.
In the field of facial plastic surgery, standards for the "ideal" nose were, in the past, based on the facial characteristics of Caucasian white females, and the tendency among plastic surgeons was to give the same nose to everyone. But as society has changed, so too has the aesthetic approach to rhinoplasty. Today, cosmetic surgeons take a more individualized approach to rhinoplasty, especially among ethnic patients whose goal is to preserve and enhance their ethnic features rather than Westernize them.
Who Is a Candidate for Ethnic Rhinoplasty?
You may be a candidate for ethnic rhinoplasty if you are considering modifying nasal features that are considered typical of your ethnic group. In the past, the goal often was to obscure ethnic identity (think Michael Jackson), but now ethnic plastic surgery in general, and ethnic rhinoplasty in particular, are about providing subtle enhancement of ethnic features.
Such features may include noses with wider bases, little or no cartilage in the tip, large or flared nostrils, a retracted columella (portion of nose between the nostrils), and a wide, flat bridge with little projection. Some ethnic groups have thicker skin on their face, which tends to give their nose a more rounded appearance; others have a dorsal hump on the ridge of the nose, a drooping nose tip, or a prominent nose or shape that is associated with their heritage.
Ethnic rhinoplasty can modify any of these characteristics to various degrees. To achieve the goal of facial harmony, however, the appearance of the refined nose should be in sync with your original features.
Ethnic Rhinoplasty Surgery – The Possibilities
Ethnic rhinoplasty surgery employs many of the same techniques used in regular rhinoplasty; your surgeon's approach is dictated by your ethnicity, anatomy and aesthetic goals.
Techniques range from manipulating bone and cartilage to make your nose appear longer, narrower or straighter to remodeling the structure of the nose with cartilage grafts. In some cases, artificial implants are used to define your nasal bridge. The base of your nostrils can be narrowed, and the tip can be refined and lengthened.
While technique is dictated by your needs and desires, the ultimate goal remains to modify the nose to enhance facial balance and symmetry. Whether the desired results are dramatic or subtle, they should be in harmony with the rest of your face.
Choosing an Ethnic Rhinoplasty Surgeon
Considering ethnic rhinoplasty? The first step is to consult with a board-certified facial plastic surgeon or board-certified plastic surgeon who's experienced in this specialty. The Internet is the main source for beginning your search for an ethnic rhinoplasty specialist. Start with search engines such as Google or Bing. Chat rooms and social media websites may also be good places to seek information on specialists and find out what patients have to say about their skill and bedside manner. Local medical societies are another resource you can tap into.
During your consultation with a surgeon, communicate your expectations for the surgery as clearly as possible. If possible, bring pictures of what you'd like your nose to look like, but keep in mind that those images will be a starting point for your surgeon. If you have nasal function problems (trouble breathing, a whistling noise when you talk or sing), mention them to the surgeon as well; they may be correctable.
The surgeon should listen carefully to what you're saying. When you're done talking, you should do the same. The surgeon's feedback is based on his or her professional experience and should give you an idea if your expectations are realistic. Find out how many ethnic rhinoplasties he or she performs annually and ask to see patient before-and-after rhinoplasty pictures. Inquire about technique, risks and complications, what you can expect from recovery, and whether financing is available.
A good plastic surgeon will present all your surgical and non-surgical options while educating you on the unique ethnic factors that present technical and aesthetic challenges. These include the tendency for darker skin to scar more easily and skin that requires individualized treatments to make it surgery ready. If you are concerned about scarring, ask your surgeon what you can do before and after your nose surgery to minimize scars.
About the Reviewer of this Article
Paul S. Nassif, MD, FACS, is a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specializes in ethnic and reconstructive rhinoplasty at his practice in Beverly Hills, CA. He is board-certified in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and otolaryngology (head and neck surgery). Dr. Nassif is affiliated with top hospitals and medical schools in Southern California and has authored articles on facial plastic and reconstructive surgery for peer-reviewed journals. He presents regularly at major medical conferences and lectures about the latest facial plastic surgery techniques. Dr. Nassif teaches residents and colleagues at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. His philanthropic work includes "Face to Face," a national organization that offers consults and surgery to victims of domestic violence. For more information about Dr. Nassif, visit www.rhinoplastyspecialist.com.
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