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African American Rhinoplasty

We often identify African-American, or black, noses as wider than Caucasian noses, with a flatter (lower) bridge, wide nostrils and a soft flat tip. However, no two African-American noses are exactly alike. African-American noses come in all sizes and shapes, chiefly because of the mixing over centuries with other ethnic groups.

Patients with ethnic origins in Central, West and South Africa usually have traditional African noses with the classic features described above. African-Caucasian noses generally appear in lighter-skinned African-Americans. The bridge and nostrils are usually narrower, the tip is less bulbous, and the nose is usually longer and may even have a bump in it. And the African-Indian nose may be larger and longer with a wide bridge, a drooping tip, and wide, flared nostrils.

These anatomical differences can be challenging for rhinoplasty surgeons who lack the necessary skills and experience in ethnic rhinoplasty. The most important objective in African American rhinoplasty surgery should be to enhance the nose, make it look natural, and preserve the patient’s heritage and ethnicity.

Specialized African American Rhinoplasty Procedures

Most African American rhinoplasty patients seek minor refinements of their noses to better fit their faces. The most common requests are:

  • Raise and refine the nasal bridge. This can be accomplished with cartilage grafts or implants, both natural and synthetic. Many rhinoplasty surgeons will prefer to harvest your natural cartilage (from inside the nose or from an ear) to reduce the risk of infection and movement.
  • Narrowing the nostrils to balance them with the rest of the nose and face. Nostril-narrowing surgery can be done to achieve smaller nostrils while still maintaining ethnicity but, due to the thicker, oilier skin of African American patients, it must be performed by a well-trained rhinoplasty surgeon to avoid scarring and distortion.
  • Reduce the nose tip and reinforce its cartilage. This is another anatomical difference between African American and Caucasian noses which is attributed to weaker cartilage and excess fatty tissue. Cartilage grafts and fat removal can be performed to refine the nasal tip.

While the choice of performing open or closed African American rhinoplasty is up to the surgeon, many favor the open rhinoplasty technique because they can better visualize the nasal structures. Be sure to thoroughly discuss this with your plastic surgeon during your pre-surgery consultation. The ultimate goal is to give you a nose that looks natural and harmonizes with your African American facial features.

Cost of African American Rhinoplasty

The average African American rhinoplasty surgery cost is between $5,000 and $8,000, excluding the cost of the facility, anesthesia, and drugs or supplies. Refer to RhinoplastyGuide.com’s page on rhinoplasty costs for more information about factors that affect the cost, potential health insurance coverage, and financing options.

African American Rhinoplasty Risks and Complications

You should refer to RhinoplastyGuide.com’s page describing the possible risks of rhinoplasty surgery. However, there are some risks and complications that are more prevalent in African American rhinoplasty patients:

  • Keloid scars - Keloid scars (scars with overgrown tissue causing an elevated, irregular shape) are always a concern when performing surgery on darker-pigmented patients. However, plastic surgeons with expertise in ethnic rhinoplasty will take preventive measures to prevent this complication.
  • Edema - Multiple incisions and the thicker, oily skin covering the nose of African American patients can cause more post-operative edema (swelling caused by fluid retention) than in other rhinoplasty patients. This may require a longer period of splinting after surgery or the use of steroids.
  • Skin Necrosis - Because African American patients typically have a thicker, oilier nasal tip, reduction of the tissue may cause necrosis (death) of the skin cells on the tip of the nose. A skilled ethnic rhinoplasty surgeon can prevent this complication.
  • Asymmetry - Asymmetry means that the nose does not look equal from one side to the other. A plastic surgeon with experience in African American rhinoplasty will precisely measure the amount of tissue being removed to avoid this complication. However, revision rhinoplasty may be necessary to correct this issue after swelling and edema has subsided. Revision should not be considered in less than one year after surgery.
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