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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Sep 15;110(4):1116-33.

Indications and use of composite grafts in 100 consecutive secondary and tertiary rhinoplasty patients: introduction of the axial orientation.

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  • Department of Surgery (Plastic Surgery), St. Joseph and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, Nashua, NH, USA. consmdpa@aol.com


The fragile alar rims are complex structures whose specialized and supportive skin ensures the competence of the external valves and the patency of the inlets to the nasal airways. A chart review was performed of 100 consecutive secondary or tertiary rhinoplasty patients in whom the author had placed composite grafts before February 1999. Follow-up continued for at least 12 months. In 94 percent of the patients, composite grafts were harvested from the cymba conchae by removing the cartilage with its adherent anterior skin. In 6 percent of the patients, independently indicated alar wedges supplied the grafts. Six patients required secondary procedures to thin the alar rims, but such revisions have not been necessary since primary contouring of the cartilaginous graft component was instituted. Three auricular donor-site complications (one keloid, two thickened graft contours) were successfully revised through office procedures. Prior cosmetic rhinoplasty in a patient with normal alar cartilage anatomy exceeded all other etiologies as the cause of the deformity for which composite grafts were indicated (50 percent). The second most common etiology was deformity from prior rhinoplasty in a patient with alar cartilage malposition (33 percent of patients). Congenital deformities (7 percent of patients), trauma (6 percent), and prior tumor ablation (4 percent) comprised the remaining etiologies. Composite grafts were used most frequently to correct alar notching or asymmetry in rim height (43 percent of patients) or to provide an increase in apparent or real nasal length (28 percent). External valvular incompetence (14 percent of patients), nostril or vestibular stenosis (11 percent), or combined vestibular stenosis and lateral alar wall collapse (4 percent) were less common indications. Most composite grafts were oriented in the coronal plane (parallel to the alar rims). However, nostril or vestibular stenosis was corrected by sagittally placed composite grafts, and a third orientation (axial plane), to the author's knowledge not described previously, was used in patients with combined nostril stenoses and flattening of the alar walls. In this secondary rhinoplasty series, iatrogenic alar rim deformities or stenoses following cosmetic rhinoplasty dominated other causes requiring composite graft reconstruction (83 percent of patients). Of these 83 patients, 39.7 percent had preexisting alar cartilage malpositions, further supporting the importance of making accurate anatomical diagnosis part of every preoperative rhinoplasty plan.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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