Over the years, rhinoplasty has evolved into a highly versatile procedure that is intended to help enhance and complement the facial features of each patient. Rhinoplasty requires the use of many different surgical techniques to create a custom result the patient will love. One of the most important techniques in rhinoplasty is cartilage grafting, which is performed during almost every single cosmetic nasal surgery procedure. Because rhinoplasty involves changes to the skin, bone, and cartilage of the nose, the quality of each makes a difference in the final results. So how does cartilage quality make a difference in rhinoplasty outcomes?
Cartilage grafting is a complex, but integral rhinoplasty technique, which involves removing cartilage from areas of the body where it is plentiful, to be used in shaping different areas of the nose. Cartilage that is harvested is then carved into various shapes to augment, re-shape, and strengthen the nose.
Cartilage is found in many areas of the body, and facial plastic surgeons typically use cartilage from one or more of three different sources. The nasal septum cartilage is preferred, as it is the closest in quality to the rest of the nasal cartilage and does not require additional incisions to retrieve it. Ear cartilage is the second most common source, and harvest of this will not significantly change the size or shape of the ears. The final source is rib cartilage, and although this cartilage is plentiful and strong, it does have a tendency to warp and is least preferred of all the sources.
The Importance of Cartilage Quality
While most of the time, cartilage quality is not a major concern, it can pose a problem for some patients. When there is not a sufficient quantity of ear or nasal septum cartilage, or the cartilage is weak, there are additional risks for the aesthetic and functional outcome of the surgery. Weakened nasal structures can lead to breathing problems or post-operative deformities that must be corrected with a revision rhinoplasty procedure. This is why it is so important for patients to choose an expert plastic surgeon and follow all pre- and post-operative instructions carefully.
In some cases, such as when cartilage quality is low, the plastic surgeon may decide that it is better to use an artificial implant, rather than the patient’s own tissue. While the vast majority of surgeons prefer using natural cartilage, implants may be a better choice, depending on the patient. Nasal implants can be made from Gore-Tex, silicone, orMedpor. Implants tend to have a higher rate of complications than cartilage, which can include extrusion, infection, movement of the implant, or warping. Fortunately, most patients have some useable cartilage, which can be used to reshape the nose successfully.
The only way to know if you are a good candidate for rhinoplasty is to schedule a consultation with an experienced rhinoplasty surgeon who can give you an expert assessment. He or she will ask questions about your health, examine your nose, and discuss goals for your prospective rhinoplasty. While there are some variables that are difficult to control in the rhinoplasty process, a skilled, board-certified surgeon can reliably produce good outcomes for most patients. Here are some tips for your consultations:
- Meet only with board certified surgeons
- Choose facial plastic surgeons who specialize in rhinoplasty
- Do not make your decisions based on price
- Come to consultations with specific questions
- Have realistic expectations about your results
Your choice of surgeon is the most important factor in the success of your procedure, and you do not want to skimp on the research phase. If you are unsure as to where to begin your search, consider scheduling a consultation with Dr. Stuart Bentkover, a dedicated facial plastic surgeon who has spent over 25 years honing his rhinoplasty skills. For more information, call Dr. Bentkover’s Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham (617-247-0033) locations today.