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  • Every ethnicity has certain anatomic characteristics that tend to distinguish it from other ethnicities. African Americans are no exception, often possessing, for example, darker, thicker skin and certain facial structural qualities that may be apparent on the forehead, around the eyes and especially around the nose.
    Many people with these features are content with their appearance. Others, however, are not and may feel that the look or function their noses could be improved. The good news is, rhinoplasty can be very effective at addressing the concerns African Americans tend to have about their noses. This complex facial plastic procedure can achieve many different aesthetic goals, such as changing the angle of the nose, reshaping it, increasing or decreasing its size, and altering its proportions.

    Common Characteristics Of An African American Nose

    Some of the most common characteristics of an African American nose include:

    • Thick nasal skin
    • Low nasal bridge
    • More width as compared to other ethnicities
    • Flatness
    • Wide nostrils

    In many African American noses there is a depression between the eyes, starting at the nasal bridge. Unlike certain other ethnic groups who typically have narrow, high bridges, the African American nasal bridge is often flat and wide. This can lead to functional problems with the nostrils and cause issues with breathing.

    Some African Americans also have thin, short cartilage near the lower lateral part of the nostrils. It is also common for African Americans to have an over-extended nasal tip as well as problems with the angle between the upper lip and the nasal base.

    What Is The Goal Of An African American Rhinoplasty?

    The goal of any rhinoplasty procedure is to achieve symmetry, harmony, and beauty. In African Americans and other non-Caucasian ethnicities this means changing the nose and other facial features in a manner than accentuates their features while maintaining their ethnic characteristics.

    That being said, African American rhinoplasty may be performed with any number of more specific goals in mind, such as reshaping the nose, making it smaller or larger or changing its angle.

    How Is This Different From Other Types Of Rhinoplasty?

    The principal goals of African American rhinoplasty (beauty, harmony, symmetry, etc.) are no different from other types of rhinoplasty. However, African American rhinoplasty should not be a matter of taking Caucasian rhinoplasty and balancing it with ethnic considerations. A good rhinoplasty surgeon will tailor the procedure to the specific needs and desires of the patient, regardless of what ethnic group the patient belongs to.

    It is important to note that not every rhinoplasty surgeon is skilled at performing African American rhinoplasty. Generally speaking, African American have certain features, configuration and proportions which require specific alterations to achieve the desired effect.

    How Does Thick Skin Affect A Rhinoplasty?

    Thick skin scars more easily than thin skin, so special precautions must be taken to avoid excessive scarring. Thick skin also contains more fat, so a technique called tip defatting is performed in many African American rhinoplasty patients. During this part of the procedure fat is removed from between the tip dome cartilages in order to narrow the domes, and additional fat may be removed from beneath the thick skin layer.

    Techniques Used In African American Rhinoplasty

    The specific techniques used in African American rhinoplasty depend on the anatomy of the patient and his or her aesthetic concerns.

    For instance, for patients who are unhappy with the size of their nostrils, nostril reduction and/or narrowing may be necessary to narrow the nostrils, decrease the length of the nostril sidewalls or achieve symmetry.
    To alter a nasal bridge that is flat or low, a technique called dorsal augmentation may be used. This technique involves the use of cartilage grafts to give the appearance of height.

    If there is not enough cartilage available for grafts, an artificial implant such as the Medpor may suffice. Medpor is used if the patient’s own septal cartilage is too weak. Medpor integrates better than silicone, and silicone moves more than Medpor over time.

    Make sure to select a board-certified facial plastic surgeon that regularly performs African American rhinoplasty. Your surgeon’s practice should focus on rhinoplasty and other forms of facial plastic surgery, and your surgeon should have significant experience performing different forms of rhinoplasty, including African American rhinoplasty as well as other ethnic rhinoplasties, primary rhinoplasty, secondary rhinoplasty and other nose surgeries. To start your search for a talented African American rhinoplasty specialist, refer to the website of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

    American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery - logo American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
    American Board of Otolaryngology - logo American Board of Otolaryngology
    American College of Surgeons - logo American College of Surgeons
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