What Is a Cartilage Grafting Nose Job?
Written By Joe Gryskiewicz, MD, FACS
A Comprehensive Guide to Reshaping Your Nose with Cartilage Grafts
A cartilage grafting nose job, also known as cartilage grafting rhinoplasty, is a type of nose surgery that involves using cartilage from other parts of the body (such as the septum, ear, or rib) to reshape or reconstruct the nose. The goal of this procedure is to improve the appearance and/or function of the nose by adding or removing cartilage in strategic areas. Cartilage grafting nose jobs are often used to correct breathing problems, repair damage from previous surgeries, or simply enhance the overall aesthetic of the nose.
Dr. Joe Gryskiewicz, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Minneapolis, is one of the most successful plastic surgeons in Minnesota. He can help you get the nose you have always wanted.
What Is Cartilage Grafting?
Cartilage grafting is a surgical technique used in rhinoplasty (nose surgery) that involves transplanting a piece of cartilage from one part of the body to another area of the nose that requires additional support or structure. The cartilage can be taken from several areas of the body, such as the nasal septum, ear, or ribcage, and then implanted in the nose to help reshape, rebuild, or reinforce weak or damaged areas.
Cartilage is a flexible and durable tissue that provides structural support and elasticity to various organs, including the nose. Cartilage grafting can be used in rhinoplasty to achieve various objectives, such as:
- Improve nasal function by reinforcing weak or collapsed areas of the nose, such as the nasal valve or the septum;
- Correct deformities or asymmetries in the nose, such as a deviated septum or a crooked bridge;
- Build up or augment areas of the nose that are too small or flat, such as the tip or the dorsum;
- Provide additional support to the nasal structure after trauma or previous surgeries.
Overall, cartilage grafting in rhinoplasty can help achieve a more aesthetically pleasing and functionally optimal nose.
How Is Cartilage Grafting Different from Other Types of Rhinoplasty?
Cartilage grafting differs from other types of rhinoplasty in that it involves using cartilage from other areas of the body to modify the shape and/or function of the nose. In contrast, other types of rhinoplasty may involve removing, reshaping, or repositioning existing nasal tissues or bones without the use of cartilage grafts.
For example, a traditional rhinoplasty may involve reshaping the nasal bones, removing excess cartilage, or modifying the soft tissue of the nose to achieve the desired aesthetic or functional outcome. However, in cases where there is not enough cartilage present in the nose to provide adequate support or structure, cartilage grafting may be necessary to achieve the desired result.
Here are some additional details about how cartilage grafting is different from other types of rhinoplasty:
- Customization – Cartilage grafting allows for greater customization of the nasal structure because the surgeon can use a piece of cartilage from a donor area to sculpt and shape the nose to the patient’s unique specifications. This can be particularly useful for patients with complex nasal deformities or asymmetries that require a more personalized approach.
- Reinforcement – Cartilage grafting is often used to reinforce or augment weak or damaged areas of the nose. For example, if a patient has a deviated septum or a collapsed nasal valve, a cartilage graft can be used to provide additional support and improve nasal function.
- Greater control – Cartilage grafting gives the surgeon greater control over the final outcome of the surgery. Because the surgeon is adding or modifying existing nasal structures with a piece of cartilage, they can more precisely sculpt and shape the nose to achieve the desired result.
- Donor areas – Cartilage grafting requires harvesting a piece of cartilage from a donor area, such as the nasal septum, ear, or ribcage. The choice of donor area will depend on several factors, including the amount and quality of cartilage needed and the surgeon’s preferences and expertise.
- Longer recovery – Because cartilage grafting involves harvesting cartilage from another area of the body, the recovery process may be longer and more uncomfortable than other types of rhinoplasty. Patients may experience swelling, bruising, and discomfort in both the donor and recipient areas, and may need to wear a nasal splint or packing for a longer period of time.
Types of cartilage grafts used in nose jobs?
There are several types of cartilage grafts that can be used in nose jobs, depending on the specific needs of the patient and the surgeon’s preferences and expertise. Some common types of cartilage grafts used in rhinoplasty include:
Septal cartilage grafts
This type of graft involves using cartilage from the patient’s nasal septum to reshape or reinforce other areas of the nose. The nasal septum is a wall made up of cartilage and bone that separates the left and right nasal cavities. It is an ideal source of cartilage for grafting because it is easily accessible, and the patient’s own tissue is less likely to be rejected than tissue from a donor.
Septal cartilage grafts can be used for a variety of purposes in rhinoplasty, such as building up or augmenting the nasal bridge, refining the nasal tip, or improving the function of the nose. For example, if a patient has a deviated septum that is causing breathing difficulties, the surgeon can use septal cartilage to correct the deviation and improve nasal airflow.
Septal cartilage grafts can also be used to address aesthetic concerns, such as a flat nasal bridge or a drooping nasal tip. In these cases, the surgeon may use septal cartilage to build up or support the area, creating a more balanced and proportionate appearance. The cartilage can be shaped and sculpted to achieve the desired result, and the surgeon can use sutures or other techniques to hold the graft in place.
One of the advantages of using septal cartilage grafts is that they are a natural and biocompatible material, which means they are less likely to cause an adverse reaction or be rejected by the body. Additionally, because the cartilage is taken from the patient’s own body, there is limited risk.
However, there are some limitations to using septal cartilage grafts. The amount of cartilage available in the nasal septum can vary from person to person, and in some cases, there may not be enough septal cartilage to achieve the desired result. In these cases, the surgeon may need to consider using other sources of cartilage, such as ear or rib cartilage.
Ear cartilage grafts
Ear cartilage grafts are another common type of cartilage graft used in rhinoplasty. This type of graft involves harvesting cartilage from the patient’s ear and using it to shape or reinforce the nose.
The ear is a convenient donor site for cartilage grafts because it is easily accessible, and the cartilage harvested from the ear is similar in quality to septal cartilage. Additionally, the incision made in the ear is well-concealed and typically heals well.
Ear cartilage grafts can be used in various ways during rhinoplasty. For example, they can be used to increase the height or projection of the nasal bridge, to shape or define the nasal tip, or to provide support to the nasal sidewalls.
One potential advantage of using ear cartilage grafts is that they can be sculpted into different shapes and sizes to suit the individual patient’s needs. This allows for a more customized approach to rhinoplasty and can result in a more natural-looking outcome.
However, there are some potential downsides to using ear cartilage grafts as well. One issue is that the ear may be sensitive or tender after the graft is harvested, which can cause some discomfort for the patient. Additionally, the use of ear cartilage grafts may be limited in patients who have previously undergone ear surgery or who have insufficient amounts of cartilage in their ears.
Rib cartilage grafts
As the name suggests, this type of graft involves using cartilage harvested from the patient’s ribcage to modify or augment the nasal structure.
Rib cartilage grafts are often used in cases where there is not enough cartilage available from the septum or ear, or where additional structural support is required. Rib cartilage is a particularly useful grafting material for cases of severe nasal deformities, such as a severely deviated septum or a collapsed nasal tip, that require a significant amount of cartilage.
The procedure for harvesting rib cartilage grafts is typically done under general anesthesia and requires a small incision along the ribcage. The cartilage is then carefully sculpted and shaped to the desired size and shape, and is then inserted into the nose through small incisions.
One of the main advantages of rib cartilage grafts is their durability and strength. Rib cartilage is a dense and sturdy material that can provide long-lasting support to the nasal structure. However, one potential disadvantage of using rib cartilage is the risk of visible scarring at the site of the incision.
Dr. Joe prefers to use a cadaver rib which is readily available off the shelf so you don’t have to use your own rib.
Steps Involved in a Cartilage Grafting Nose Job Surgery
The following are the general steps involved in a cartilage grafting nose job surgery:
- The first step is to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty. The surgeon will evaluate your nose and discuss your concerns and desired outcomes. They will also examine the thickness and quality of your existing nasal cartilage to determine whether a cartilage graft is needed.
- Anesthesia. Before the procedure, the anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation to ensure the patient is comfortable and pain-free.
- Harvesting the cartilage. The surgeon will then harvest cartilage from a suitable donor site, such as the septum, ear, or rib. The cartilage is then prepared and shaped to fit the desired contour of the nose.
- Creating the incision. Your surgeon will create a small incision inside the nose or on the columella, the strip of tissue that separates the nostrils, to access the nasal structure.
- Placement of cartilage graft. Your surgeon will then carefully place the cartilage graft in the desired location to reshape and provide structural support to the nose. The graft is secured in place using sutures, adhesive or a combination of both.
- Closing the incision. After the graft is placed, the surgeon will carefully close the incision with sutures.
- Recovery. Generally, it takes several months for the graft to fully integrate and for the surrounding tissues to heal. During the first few weeks after surgery, patients should avoid strenuous physical activity and be careful when blowing their nose or touching the surgical site. Swelling and bruising can persist for several weeks, and some patients may experience numbness or sensitivity around the graft site
5 FAQ’s about Cartilage Grafting Nose Job
Can anyone get a cartilage grafting nose job?
No, not everyone is a good candidate for a cartilage grafting nose job. A qualified surgeon will evaluate your medical history, current health status, and aesthetic goals to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure.
Is a cartilage grafting nose job painful?
Like any surgical procedure, some discomfort and pain are expected after a cartilage grafting nose job. However, most patients report mild to moderate pain that can be managed with prescribed pain medication and other post-operative care instructions.
When can I resume normal activities after a cartilage grafting nose job?
Recovery time after a cartilage grafting nose job varies from patient to patient. In general, patients can resume normal activities within 2 to 3 weeks after the surgery, but it may take up to 12-months for complete recovery.
What are the risks of a cartilage grafting nose job?
Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with a cartilage grafting nose job. Some of the potential risks include bleeding, infection, scarring, nasal asymmetry, and breathing difficulties. However, with a qualified and experienced surgeon and proper post-operative care, these risks can be minimized.
How long does a cartilage grafting nose job take?
The duration of a cartilage grafting nose job varies depending on the complexity of the procedure and the extent of the grafting needed. Generally, the procedure can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.
Further Reading about Face Procedures
- Read Dr Joe’s Rhinoplasty Surgery page
- Read Dr. Joe’s Facial Liposuction Procedure
- Read Dr. Joe Best Rhinoplasty for a Bulbous Nose
Medical Reference on Cartilage Grafting
- Medical Article on Ethnic Rhino – Hopkins Medicine
- WebMD Rhinoplasty Surgery – WebMD
- Numerical Surgery of Different Types of Nose Shapes – JSM Central
- Nose Cells Could Help Repair Damaged Knee Cartilage – Medical News Today