How Does Skin Thickness Play a Role in Ethnic Rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty is often considered one of the most complicated cosmetic procedures; it is a procedure where multiple factors come into play, and this difficulty may, in some cases, be increased when performing ethnic rhinoplasty. Ethnic rhinoplasty is a specialty that tailors rhinoplasty techniques to meet the specific needs and desires of varying ethnicities, such as African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Middle Eastern.

Every culture and ethnicity has its own opinions about what makes a nose beautiful. In addition, nasal anatomy differs significantly between ethnicities. These differing traits prevent rhinoplasty from being a one-size-fits-all procedure. Instead, ethnic rhinoplasty must be tailored to fit the needs of each specific patient. One of the most significant factors when performing rhinoplasty is to consider the patient’s skin thickness. When rhinoplasty was first performed, many doctors used the same techniques for every surgery, regardless of the patient’s ethnicity. This means that they would use techniques normally performed in a Caucasian rhinoplasty, not taking into account the different anatomy in ethnic noses. This approach lead to some sub-optimal results. One of the most significant concerns comes down to the disregard of varying skin thickness in the different ethnic groups.

How Does My Ethnicity Differ?

Caucasian patients tend to have thin skin combined with thick cartilage. Many other ethnicities do not share that same combination of skin and cartilage thickness. Ethnicities, such as those of African or Asian descent, commonly have thick skin combined with thinner and weaker cartilage. In these rhinoplasty patients who do desire enhanced projection and definition of the nose, especially with the nasal tip, the relationship between the cartilage and skin thickness becomes increasingly important.

The Procedure

Traditionally, length, projection, and definition are added to the nose through the use of cartilage grafts, most often taken from the patient’s nasal septum. In many ethnic patients who do have thicker skin, additional cartilage must be taken from the septum or the ear to combat the skin thickness and give the nose the necessary strength and definition. Often nasal bridge (dorsal) implants made out of synthetic materials, such as expanded polytetraflouroethylene, are used in Asian and African American patients to give a more projected, prominent bridge with cartilage grafts being added to the tip. There is no way to change a patient’s skin thickness, so instead, the techniques used must be altered to get the desired definition.

By tailoring the procedure and techniques to your specific ethnicity, you can feel assured that your nasal insecurities will be corrected while still maintaining the ethnic traits that fit your face.

To learn more about ethnic rhinoplasty, contact Dr. Jonathan Pontell by calling 610-688-7100 to schedule your consultation.

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