People of different ethnicities often have different nasal structures. For instance, people of African heritage often have rounded nostrils and a less defined nasal tip associated with weak tip cartilage. Asian noses tend to have a smaller bridge and a more rounded tip. A 2011 study found that there were a total of 14 different nose shapes among Caucasian people, including fleshy nose, noses with an upturned tip, and bent noses that looked like a hawk beak.
The variety of nasal structures means that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to rhinoplasty. When performing nose reshaping surgery on an Asian patient, for example, the surgeon should take into account the different shape of the nose as well as the different expectations the patient might have.
Rise in Rhinoplasty
An article recently published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery –– Global Open discussed the increase in popularity of rhinoplasty among those living in Asian countries and people of Asian descent living around the world. According to the article, rhinoplasty is the second most popular plastic surgery among Asian people. Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is the most common surgery. Often, the goal of people seeking surgery is to refine their appearance and reduce their Asian features, while not looking completely “Westernized.”
Just as there are 14 different types of Caucasian nose, there is a great amount of variance in the shape and size of noses among Asian people. There are some similarities in the shape and size of the Asian nose compared to the Caucasian nose, though, according to the article. For example, Asian noses tend to be smaller than Caucasian noses. The skin on the nose is often thicker while the dorsum, or bridge, of the nose is lower. Japanese noses are different than Korean noses which are different than Vietnamese noses which are different than Chinese noses which differ from Filipino noses, and all other Asian ethnic groups.
Often, an Asian person seeking rhinoplasty might decide that he or she wants the nose to be bigger or the dorsum of the nose raised. Another common request from patients is to have the projection of the nose’s tip increased. To augment the nose, a surgeon will typically use an implant.
Implants can be made of silicone, a material such as GoreTex, or tissue from the patient’s body. Silicone is often used by surgeons in Asia while surgeons in the US typically use autografts (tissue from the patient’s body) or GoreTex. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages and can produce different results. For example, silicone is relatively inexpensive but can give the nose a shiny appearance. Autografts, or implants made from materials taken from a patient’s body, have a lower rate of infection and are tolerated by a wider range of patients.
To increase the projection of the tip of the nose, a surgeon might need to use a cartilage graft. Often, the size of the columella, or the end of the nasal septum, is shorter in people of Asian descent, meaning that the technique a surgeon might use to increase the projection of the nasal tip in a Caucasian nose might not work. The nose might not have enough structure to support the technique. Adding a cartilage graft adds a supportive structure to the the tip of the nose.
A consultation with a plastic surgeon is essential for any patient considering rhinoplasty, no matter their ethnic heritage. During the consultation, the surgeon can evaluate the patient’s nasal structure to determine the most appropriate technique to use and listen to what the patient wants to get from the surgery.
As with any cosmetic procedure, it’s important that the patient have a realistic idea of what to expect after his or her nose surgery. In some cases, it might be a good idea for the patient to bring photographs of the type of nose he or she wants. The surgeon can discuss the photographs and whether or not those results are possible with each patient. Computer imaging can also improve communication between the surgeon and patient.
Recovery and Risks
Complications following Asian rhinoplasty are relatively low, but people of Asian descent do have a higher risk for some complications compared to people of Caucasian descent. For example, according to an article in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, there’s a higher risk for prolonged swelling, greater scarring, and pigmentation changes in Asian patients.
Typically, any splints or sutures are removed from the nose about a week after the surgery. Patients should follow the instructions from their surgeon carefully to avoid bumping the nose or affecting the results of the surgery in the weeks and months following the procedure.
Double board certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffery Epstein specializes in ethnic rhinoplasty procedures. He is able to discuss the procedure with you and offer a recommendation based on the the size and shape of your nose and on your expectations. Dr. Epstein has practices in New York City and Miami, Florida. Call (305) 666-5884 in Miami or (212) 759-3484 in New York to schedule a consultation today. He also has a consultation office in London.