Mar 11

Nasal Implants: Is an I-shaped implant better than an L-shaped implant?

How about neither? We are often asked about nasal implants. These are primarily used for East Asians, African Americans, and others seeking a stronger, higher nasal bridge and a more refined tip. They are also sometimes recommended for patients whose bridge has been lowered too much during previous surgery. Implants can be of various materials but the most commonly used implants are made of silicone/silastic.

nasal implant
nasal implant

Above you can see the typical shape of a nasal L-strut implant. This particular one happens to made of Medpor which can be a real problem to revise…but that’s another story.

We were recently asked about revision of an L-shaped implant that gave this particular patient’s nose a pointy, unnatural appearance. She had been happy with her natural tip but the surgeon recommended an L-strut anyways. Now, she didn’t like the look and was also starting to notice some redness of her tip 3 months after her surgery.

Let us say first off that we’re not big fans. We much prefer your own cartilage for augmenting or rebuilding the nose, whether it is from the septum, ear, or rib, or even sometimes irradiated rib.

The concerns mentioned can sometimes arise after use of a nasal implant, and that’s part of the reason we’re not big fans. An L-strut lays over the entire bridge and extends down under the tip to the base of the columella. It gives the tip definition by placing a fair bit of pressure over a small area of skin to tent the skin out. It cannot reproduce or retain the natural shape of your tip. As a result, it can look a little too pointy and unnatural.Sometimes, this pressure on the skin can become too much for the skin to bear. If you are noticing redness at your tip after an implant, you should see your surgeon or another rhinoplasty expert early to determine the cause. If the skin is under too much tension, this would be a good reason to intervene early with a revision procedure to avoid injury to the skin.

The other problem with an L-shaped implant is the possibility that it will twist or move over time and cause your nasal contour to appear crooked. These problems are less likely with an I-shaped implant that stops just above your tip because the forces of healing and skin contraction do not act on it in the same way. An I-shaped implant really justs rests on your bridge without providing the same type of structural support that an L-shaped implant is intended to give. Still, an I-shaped implant can look bulky, blocky, and unnatural. Your own natural nose is not one continuous block of cartilage…so a long, bulky, continuous implant does not make sense to us. We should replace your own lost or deficient tissues with similar tissues.

Our preference for ethnic augmentation rhinoplasty is to use your own cartilage for augmentation. If you are happy with your natural tip, you should be able to keep that roundness. Augmentation of your bridge can be done by itself to balance with your tip and other features. If you continue to be unsatisfied with a nasal implant, rest assured that you can achieve a refined but natural nose.

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