Rhinoplasty surgery involves many different techniques to produce good outcomes, but not all of them are applicable to every patient’s case. With that said, there are a few methods that are used in almost every procedure, whether primary, revision, ethnic, cosmetic, or functional rhinoplasty. One of these is cartilage grafting, a technique that involves taking cartilage from one area of the body, shaping it, and using it to build and shape the nasal framework during rhinoplasty. However, cartilage is not always used for nasal augmentation—some surgeons use nasal implants instead. But which method produces better nasal augmentation results? Cartilage or implants?
Nasal augmentation is the goal in rhinoplasty of making the nose, larger, longer and/or taller in some way, which means introducing some kind of new material to the nose. While many people undergo surgery to reduce the size of their nose or take down a nasal hump, others find their nose to be too short or flat. Nasal augmentation is a common request among patients of Asian descents, and the good news is that both cartilage and implants are viable options for accomplishing augmentation goals.
Pros and Cons of Cartilage
Cartilage grafting uses the patient’s own cartilage from one of three sites: the nasal septum, the ear, or the rib, which is then carefully sculpted and used to build up the nose to achieve the desired results. Here are some of the pros and cons of cartilage use.
- Natural look and incorporates well with the tissues
- Low risk of rejection
- Easy to shape
- Limited volume of tissue available
- Slight risk of warping (mostly for rib cartilage)
- Incision at harvest site
Pros and Cons of Implants
Nasal implants used in rhinoplasty are small, usually made from silicone or Gore-Tex and are probably nothing like what most people think of when the word “implant” comes to mind. So what are some of the pros and cons of nasal implants?
- Faster surgical times
- Sufficient material without additional incisions
- Smooth contour
- Slight risk of extrusion
- Less flexibility
- Synthetic material
Generally, facial plastic surgeons in North America tend to prefer working with cartilage grafts for their patients, as the results are reliable and they are more comfortable with this method. That said, implants are not unheard of, and are often used for Asian patients quite successfully. It all depends on what the surgeon is most comfortable with moving forward in a given case.
In addition to the surgeon’s preferences and comfort level, the method that is used will also depend on the individual procedure, and the technique that is expected to work best for each patient. Rhinoplasty is highly customizable, and what is appropriate for one patient may be completely different for another. During your consultation, you and your surgeon will discuss your goals for surgery and come up with a surgical plan for achieving those goals. A reputable surgeon will walk you through the steps and share his or her process for getting you the results you are looking for.
No matter what technique your surgeon uses for your procedure, be sure to maintain realistic expectations about your results to avoid disappointment. Rhinoplasty can produce truly remarkable results, but some patients go into the process expecting perfection, which is a recipe for dissatisfaction. Communicating with your surgeon and seeing digital previews of your results can help you get an idea of what to expect, just remember that the final results will not match these previews exactly.
Discuss Your Goals
When it is time to move forward with rhinoplasty, it is essential to choose an experienced, board certified facial plastic surgeon to perform your procedure. Rhinoplasty is an extremely difficult procedure, and augmentation is a complex technique, so choose your provider wisely to help prevent complications. If you are of Asian descent, you will also want to make sure to choose a surgeon who has extensive experience in ethnic rhinoplasty.
Dr. Stuart Bentkover has dedicated decades to the art and science of rhinoplasty, and prides himself on providing patients with beautiful, custom results from rhinoplasty, ethnic rhinoplasty, and revision rhinoplasty. If you would like to learn more, and schedule a consultation with Dr. Bentkover at Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery in Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham( 617-247-0033), MA, call either location today.