AFRICAN AMERICAN RHINOPLASTY: NOSE TYPES, CHALLENGES, AND PROPER TECHNIQUES EXPLAINED
African American rhinoplasty is a reliable option for Black people to get the correct nose job while protecting their ethnic heritage, which is the primary goal of all ethnic rhinoplasty. You might have seen some of the Caucasian-type rhinoplasty surgery results on Black people’s noses, especially on famous people. Most of them had revisions over and over just to correct the first surgery’s results. With the rhinoplasty surgery specialized in Black people’s nasal features, it is less likely that patients will need revision.
African American people have a unique nasal shape and facial structure that requires specialized approaches and techniques to address their needs. As the needs of African American patients are hugely different compared to Caucasian patients when it comes to their nasal structure, surgeons have developed special techniques to enhance the African nose shape while keeping the facial harmony of patients. In this article, we will talk about:
- What can you expect from an African American rhinoplasty surgery?
- Why you should choose to get an African American rhinoplasty?
- The subtypes of nasal African American ethnicity
- The unique nasal features of Black people
- Challenges of a typical Black nose surgery
What is African American rhinoplasty?
African American rhinoplasty is a subtype of rhinoplasty performed on patients of African-American descent. It aims to give an aesthetically desired and functional nasal shape while respecting patients’ ethnic features. This is done by developing special techniques that will work on the African nose shape.
Even though there are some similarities between the corrections both African American and Caucasian people desire, the techniques developed on Caucasian patients might not work for all patients or all parts of the nose. This is why African American rhinoplasty is a specialty, with different techniques being used.
Why Do Patients Choose African American Rhinoplasty?
As we have said, the techniques developed for Caucasian nose types are not so successful at addressing the needs of Black patients and can result in unwanted outcomes. For patients that are looking to preserve their facial harmony, and to have long-term results that will not require revision rhinoplasty procedures, African American rhinoplasty is the most reliable option.
Is African rhinoplasty operation the right option even if you want a Caucasian look?
Yes. Even though the primary reason African American rhinoplasty was developed in the first place was to preserve the ethnic features, it’s not just about the look and the shape of the nose. It’s still possible to achieve a more “Caucasian” look with African American rhinoplasty while keeping the functionality of the nose, which may not be possible with traditional Caucasian rhinoplasty techniques.
Unique Features of African American Noses
As mentioned previously, African ethnic nose types have some unique features that cannot be enhanced with typical techniques. Though some aspects are similar, like the concerns around the dorsal hump, the techniques are not suitable for a holistic approach. So, what are these unique nose characteristics that African American patients have that require special techniques?
In most African American patients, the nose bridge is often quite wide and has a bit of a concave appearance from the front and side profile. The concave appearance can be enhanced with augmentation techniques that were developed especially to correct it.
As with all ethnic groups, Black noses are not a monolith, and various bridge types can be seen among patients. Some people can present with a dorsal hump too, which is often associated with Caucasian or other ethnic rhinoplasty subgroups. The dorsal hump can be addressed with reduction techniques, similar to those used in traditional Caucasian rhinoplasty.
In the end, whatever the technique used might be, the goal is to achieve a straight nose bridge with adequate projection and definition.
Bulbous Nasal Tip
Most African American patients have bulbous nasal tip. The bulbous nasal tip has a rounder shape and is caused by the cartilage structure inside the nose, and the thick shin most African American patients have. This results in a nasal tip that lacks definition and looks disharmonious with other facial features.
In order to achieve a more delicate nasal tip, special tip reduction techniques are used to correct the tip, while not compromising the structure of the nose, and damaging the skin, as the nasal tip is the most delicate and challenging part of any rhinoplasty.
Wide Alar Base
The alar base is the part of the nostril that connects the nose, the cheek, and the upper lip. Most patients of African descent have a wide alar base and ask for a reduction. In some cases, the alar base may look fine, until the patient smiles. When smiling, flaring can occur and cause an unwanted appearance. The wide alar base and the flaring can be corrected with alar base reduction.
Nasal Bones and Cartilage Structure
The inner structure of the nose can differ greatly among African American patients. Most patients present with a wide nasal bone, and wide and short cartilage that gives the nose a flat look. However, there are also some types of noses that can have a stronger structure that has longer cartilages. The goal of the procedure is to rearrange and enhance these structures while not compromising on the strength and functionality of the nose.
Subtypes of African American Noses
As we have mentioned before, African American people are not a monolith. When it comes to rhinoplasty, surgeons have observed different variations of African American nose types among patients. The subtypes have enough differences that they might require distinct approaches and techniques. For the main three subgroups, we can count the African type, the Afro-Caucasian type, and the Afro-Indian type, which you can see the differences in the table below.
Low, wide, and mostly concaved
High, mostly wide and straight
High, wide, with a hump
Nasal Base Width
Excess flaring and wide alar base
Slightly flaring and wide
Flaring and wide
The Nasal Bones
Short, thick, and narrow
Moderate to long, wide, and thin
Long, wide and thin
Alar Cartilage Structure
Challenges of African American Rhinoplasty
So, what are some specific challenges these features can present during and after rhinoplasty surgery? These challenges do not mean that African American rhinoplasty is particularly hard to perform, but that it requires a certain deal of attention and care. The following points are some of the challenges surgeons master to provide the best results for their patients.
Achieving a Symmetrical Appearance
During surgery, the surgeon might have to deal with asymmetry concerning the nasal base. Most patients will have a symmetrical base and the surgeon can easily reduce the wide appearance by creating symmetrical excisions. If there is an asymmetry in the nasal base, naturally or due to primary surgery, it can be more difficult the correct it. Surgeons need to account for the nasal base asymmetry in advance to fix this problem correctly.
Surgeons also need to consider the asymmetry of the bridge and the dorsum. If there is asymmetry present after the surgery, the patient and the surgeon should wait at least a year until the nose is fully healed.
Respecting Ethnic and Facial Harmony
The main reason his kind of surgery is available in the first place is to make sure that African American patients can get the nose shape they desire, without stepping over boundaries. It’s important that plastic surgeons take a great deal in reassuring the patients that they will get the results they are looking for and deliver on it.
Preserving the Ability to Breath
Avoiding breathing problems is one of the primary concerns of African American patients. If the African nose shape is treated with the same techniques used in Caucasian rhinoplasty, it can cause the nasal valve to collapse. A collapsed nose is a serious issue, as it can lead to difficulty in breathing, snoring, or even bleeding in some cases.
Considering Skin Health
There is little difference in the recovery process for African American patients. However, due to the thicker skin structure, the swelling might take longer to go down. To deal with this problem, patients will need to have a slightly longer immediate recovery time and will have to wear the cast and the splints for longer during the healing process. If the issue persists, the swelling can be treated with steroid injections.
Another issue is that due to the highly melanated skin, the scars and incisions might appear more visible, and in some cases take longer to heal, which can increase the chances of tissue death.
Surgical Techniques Used for African American Rhinoplasty
In order to subtly correct the features and challenges mentioned above, rhinoplasty surgeons have to use specially developed techniques. The following techniques were developed out of necessity because when the traditional Caucasian rhinoplasty techniques were used on African noses, it resulted in either a nose shape that doesn’t harmonize with the rest of the face, or it severely compromised the health and structure of the nose.
The nasal tip is the most important for any rhinoplasty, but it’s the most crucial part of African American rhinoplasty that can make or break the results. In most cases, tip plasty is concerned with refinement and projection, in order to enhance a short or flat look.
Tip projection and enhancement can be achieved via using grafts. However, the appearance of the tip must be considered as a whole, and great attention should also be paid to the dorsum lines and the alar base. Millimetric changes are used on the tip and the dorsum to achieve the best natural-looking results.
Dorsum Projection and Definition
In order to avoid racial congruity in patients, great emphasis must be put on the correct shaping of the nasal dorsum lines. The outer two lines must follow the natural shape of the African nose type, which is straight and curved on the sides, and straight in the middle.
If the patients have a wide base, the surgeon can trim the wide base for a more well-defined appearance and use grafts to enhance projection. However, reducing the wideness too much can have an unwanted result.
Alarplasty is a sub-operation in the rhinoplasty procedure, it can also be performed alone. Most African American patients seek alarplasty to reduce the size of the wide nostrils, which contributes to the bulbous look of the nose. To reduce the wide look, incisions are made in the nasal base, and the nostrils are brought in for a more delicate appearance.
In addition, alarplasty can reduce the flared appearance that can occur when smiling. The correction of the flaring can also help patients with breathing easily.
Alarplasy is an area where surgeons not specialized in African Rhinoplasty can have a bit of a difficult time, mostly due to a lack of planning in advance. By altering the alar base after the nasal tip and dorsum are corrected, the surgeons can keep the nasal harmony without too much reduction.
Grafting techniques used in African American rhinoplasty, differ greatly compared to traditional rhinoplasty. Grafts are used to give stability and longevity to the newly achieved nose shape. Special grafting techniques such as onlay tip grafts, columellar strut grafts, and septal extension grafts can be used to provide definition, better projection, and a narrowing effect.
For grafts, a lot of cartilage may be needed. For African American patients, the septal cartilage they have might not be enough to support this new structure, so harvesting grafts from the ear or the rib cartilage might be required.
Considering Skin Thickness
Most African nose types have thicker skin, which gets even thicker at the tip. Due to the thicker, oilier skin the patients present with, it might not be easy to see the changes made under the skin. The surgeons need to take great care to not overshave the cartilage, just to make the changes visible, which can result in a compromised structure of the tip.
It is highly important that all ethnicities get the respectful treatment they deserve in the realm of plastic surgery. Especially for patients of African descent, preserving the ethnic look of the nose is of utmost importance to highlight the cultural identity. Thankfully today, this type of surgery is available so that patients can get the nose they desire. Let’s go over the main points of the article one last time to make sure all grounds are covered:
- African noses have unique features, some of these features can be less desirable for patients, but they can still be changed properly with the correct techniques.
- There are unique challenges to this kind of surgical procedure, which most can be prevented by getting it done by an expert surgeon who can effectively use the correct techniques.
- The African nose type requires special techniques to be used, which preserve the natural appearance and the structural integrity of the nose.
We hope that we were able to answer all your questions when it comes to African American rhinoplasty. If you have any further questions, are curious about how the procedure works and would like to get a quotation, you can fill out the contact form below to reach out to us. One of our medical consultants will reach out to you in no time, in your native language, to give you a quote. For more information, you can check out our other articles on different types of ethnic rhinoplasty.