Nose Surgery: 4 ‘plasty’ Procedures
Nose surgery, also known as rhinoplasty, may be performed for both medical and cosmetic reasons. Cosmetic rhinoplasties enhance the appearance and proportion of the nose, while medical rhinoplasties are done for functional purposes, such as to repair deformities from an injury, correct a birth defect or improve breathing problems.
- This Quarterly October 2017 -

1. Rhinoplasty

There are two approaches to rhinoplasty: open and closed. In closed rhinoplasty, all the incisions and resulting scars are hidden within the nostrils. An open rhinoplasty usually has an additional incision across the base of the collumella (tissue separating the nostrils). The resulting scar is inconspicuous and cannot be seen from the front. With rhinoplasty, nose augmentation, nose reduction, correction of droopy noses and straightening of crooked noses can be achieved.

2. Alarplasty and nostrilplasty

Alarplasty is aimed at reducing the size of the nasal alar (wings of the nose that house the nostrils). Commonly conducted under local anaesthesia, the surgery does not involve cutting and modification of bone and cartilage. Small incisions are made at the alar facial junction, where the nose connects with the cheeks. An appropriate amount of tissue is removed and the junction is carefully relocated towards the centre of the nasal base, thus reducing the width of the nose.

  • Alarplasty vs Nostrilplasty – Nostrilplasty is a procedure to reshape the nostril, thus alarplasty is considered a type of nostrilplasty.

    Another common type of nostrilplasty is one that closes ‘open’ nostrils (nostrils that appear too visible from the front).

  • What it can achieve – Narrower and less flared nostrils, a more streamlined-looking nose.

  • Duration of surgery – Alarplasties and nostrilplasties usually take less than an hour.

  • Recovery time – Downtime is shorter (usually about five days) and recovery is easier, compared to rhinoplasty. Most patients return to work within a week.

3. Septoplasty

The nasal septum refers to the internal ‘wall’ between two sides of the nose. It consists mainly of cartilage, mucosal linings and bone at its base. A septoplasty is performed through a closed approach. Septorhinoplasty is the combination of rhinoplasty and septoplasty in one procedure.

  • What it can achieve – Relieve obstruction to breathing caused by a deviation of the nasal septum due to trauma, disease or birth defect. It can also correct abnormalities of the septum that cause a visible deformity of the external nose.

  • Duration of surgery – Approximately an hour. A septorhinoplasty takes about two to three hours.

  • Recovery time – As the scars are hidden within the nose, there is usually minimal visible swelling. Most patients return to work within two to three days.

4. Tip-plasty

Tip-plasty refers to a group of procedures that reshapes, reduces or enhances the nasal tip.

  • What it can achieve – Subject to the technique employed, a tip-plasty can achieve: reduction of a large tip, augmentation of a flat tip, uplifting of a droopy tip, lowering of an upturned tip, straightening of a crooked tip, among other refinements of the nose tip.

  • Duration of surgery – One to two hours

  • Recovery time – Most patients return to work within a week.