Ethnic Rhinoplasty Q&A With Dr. Matthew Kaufman

Rhinoplasty (commonly referred to as a nose job) is universally considered to be the most complex of all cosmetic procedures. The nose is a multi-angled, three-dimensional structure, requiring rhinoplasty surgeons to work with bone, skin, cartilage and internal tissue. It is necessary to make changes to all of these structures while maintaining features and function. Since the nose is an incredibly visible structure, every millimeter counts, requiring precision and extreme expertise.

Ethnic rhinoplasty has come of age in the past 15 to 20 years, elevating the necessity for a specialty-trained rhinoplasty surgeon. Below, Dr. Matthew Kaufman answers the basic questions on the recent phenomenon of ethnic rhinoplasty:

What is ethnic rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure that resizes or reshapes the nose. Ethnic rhinoplasty refers to nasal surgery on non-Caucasian individuals, to create an aesthetically desired nose that is harmonious with the patient’s face, maintaining a balance of features without diminishing ethnic characteristics.

Can you elaborate on the goal of ethnic rhinoplasty?

Ethnic rhinoplasty requires a special level of finesse because there are a specific set of techniques and goals depending on nasal characteristics. There are unique perceptions amongst many racial ethnic groups about what constitutes ideal aesthetics and the ability to achieve outstanding surgical results while maintaining function. An added caveat is patient expectation and the ability of the surgeon to accurately evaluate the patient and their expectations, and determine if these expectations can be reliably achieved.

For example, patients may walk into a plastic surgery consultation with a picture of a celebrity and ask for that particular person’s nose. But, when we counsel patients, we talk to them about creating facial balance and harmony that’s right for them. This is the case regardless of ethnicity. The key is to preserve the unique qualities of their features and work with their personal facial structure for an aesthetically pleasing nose that fits their face.

Why is it important to seek out an experienced plastic surgeon for ethnic rhinoplasty?

Any rhinoplasty surgery requires an experienced plastic surgeon because of the complexity of the surgery. In the case of ethnic rhinoplasty (which is its own specialty), those of us with experience understand that there are aspects of this type of surgery that differ from other rhinoplasty, and we know by experience what those differences are.

In the end, the crux of any rhinoplasty surgery is to find that happy medium; balancing beauty and function. An experienced plastic surgeon will understand the importance of facial symmetry and harmony, working hand-in-hand with the patient to create a nose that fits that particular person and that particular person’s comfort level.

To help patients envision their rhinoplasty, we now use virtual imaging technology to take pictures of our patients and demonstrate possible outcomes. I implore all patients looking for this surgery to seek out plastic surgeons with this capability. In my experience, it eliminates a lot of anxiety and helps to build trust and confidence between patient and surgeon.

Dr. Matthew R. Kaufman is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who is board certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). He is a member of The Rhinoplasty Society, a nonprofit organization consisting of top surgeons throughout the world who specialize in rhinoplasty, and a lead author of Aesthetics and Cosmetic Surgery for Darker Skin Types, the first textbook dedicated to cosmetic surgery in darker racial ethnic groups and has authored the chapter on ethnic rhinoplasty.