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Know Your Nose: A Rhinoplasty Glossary

Like any branch of medicine, plastic surgery has its own special language. My patients interested in getting rhinoplasty, or a nose job in Chicago often say they find this new vocabulary can be an intimidating part of the planning process. To help break down the barriers of communication between doctor and patient, I’ve provided the definitions of some of the most common terms associated with this popular surgery.

Alar base: The bottom of the nose, or the portion of the nose you’d see when looking up at a person from below. Many experienced rhinoplasty surgeons perform a procedure called an alar base reduction, which reduces the width of this portion of the nose and reshapes the nostrils.

Closed procedure: A rhinoplasty that is performed through incisions made within the nostrils. This approach creates no visible scarring. Although the procedure has some advantages, it is not always the best approach for patients who require more involved reshaping.

Columella: The strip of flesh that divides the nostrils. Among other concerns, rhinoplasty can correct a “hanging” columella, which is one that extends below the nostrils.

Dorsal hump: A hump or lump that occurs on the bridge of the nose. A dorsal hump can be caused by bone, cartilage, or a combination.

Functional rhinoplasty: A rhinoplasty that is performed solely to improve the function of the nose. A functional rhinoplasty is meant to improve a patient’s breathing without altering the external appearance of his or her nose. Some rhinoplasty procedures address both aesthetic and functional concerns.

Nasal tip: The tip, or end, of the nose. An area of concern for many people, there are several ways the nasal tip can be altered during rhinoplasty. Surgical intervention can improve the angle, rotation, volume, and width of the nasal tip.

Open procedure: Also called an “external” rhinoplasty, an open procedure makes an incision across the columella. Although this procedure creates a very discreet visible scar, it allows the surgeon greater access to the internal structures of the nose. Many people who require significant contouring benefit from an open procedure.

To learn more about this complex procedure, please visit my FAQ page.

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