Despite the fact that there are countless beautiful faces revealed every day in magazine ads, on popular reality television shows, and even on towering billboards, most of the faces people encounter day to day are not flat on a page or screen, but moving in real life, where they can be seen in all three dimensions. With that in mind, no facial feature is more prominent than the nose—which may explain the enduring popularity of rhinoplasty. San Francisco Bay Area facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Stanley Jacobs regularly sees patients who want an aesthetic change, and it’s not just a request for him to make a large nose smaller.
Because the nose is a three-dimensional object, there are many angles and proportions at play, both on the nose itself and in its relationship with the rest of the face. Successful rhinoplasty surgery takes all of this into account, creating results that harmonize with other features—not merely sit among them.
Anthropometrics is a field of study dedicated to human proportions, often with an eye toward discovering ideal ratios and applying them to aesthetics and cosmetics. For anthropometric enthusiasts, the nose represents a wealth of information and a significant area of study, given the numerous spatial relations to explore: nostril to nostril, bridge width, position between the eyes, nasal tip rotation, and more.
While the vast majority of people have no idea what mathematical formula best exemplifies the most beautiful angle between the upper lip and the columella (that strip of tissue between the nostrils), many can say what they find to be beautiful about a nose. Likewise, they can also probably express which feature they think could use improvement on a nose that has proportions that vary widely from general norms.
Without going into specific ratios, there are several aspects of the nose that may be adjusted during rhinoplasty surgery. A patient may see only a nose that doesn’t seem to fit on his or her face, but an experienced facial cosmetic surgeon will be able to pinpoint the specific elements that need to be adjusted—sometimes by very minor amounts. Even a small shift—mere millimeters—can make a dramatic difference.
Common goals achieved by nose surgery include:
Improved symmetry: This is how closely a nose’s left side mirrors its right side. Since the entire face is symmetrical, with eyes framing the upper nose on either side, and the ears beyond that, a nose that is not symmetrical can particularly stand out.
Adjusted nostril size, width, or angle: As the openings into the nasal cavity, the nostrils come in a range of shapes and sizes. Ideally, they are angled the same, shaped the same, and the same size—all part of the symmetry noted above.
An adjusted nasal tip: As the point that sticks out farthest from the face, the nasal tip can draw a lot of attention, especially if its size is too large to harmonize with other elements or its angle causes it to appear upturned or asymmetrical. It can also droop over time. The naso-labial angle, between the nasal tip and upper lip, typically falls between 100 and 120 degrees in women, less in men, but if a patient’s angle varies from the norm, it can be adjusted. Raising the angle by lifting the nasal tip can shorten the nose and make it appear more attractive.
A smooth nasal profile: The dorsum or bridge of the nose may bulge out into a bump or hump that appears very prominent. More rarely, but still possible, is the opposite: a dip with concavity. Many people want their bridge to be smooth and straight. Reducing a nasal bump while simultaneously lifting the tip can create more nasal harmony.
Consistent, modest nasal width: An overly wide nose for a person’s face or a nose that obviously varies in width from top to bottom can be adjusted to become more regular and narrow.
Overall proportional adjustment: Any of these elements can be part of a rhinoplasty surgery, with the cosmetic surgeon working to assure that a change made to one part of the nose does not throw the look of another part out of balance.
Note that a rhinoplasty may also improve a patient’s ability to breathe, since asymmetry and other irregularities on the outside can indicate similar issues inside.
For more information about rhinoplasty, contact San Francisco Bay Area facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Stanley Jacobs at The Jacobs Center for Cosmetic Surgery. Send a message online, or call his Healdsburg office at 707.473.0220 or his San Francisco office at 415.433.0303.