The external nose (the part you can see easily on the outside) can also play an important role in nasal obstruction. The nostrils and area directly above them form what is called the nasal valve (see illustration below). This area is somewhat prone to collapse but can be particularly narrowed or easily collapsible due to a number of reasons, including congenital (at birth) factors or previous trauma or surgery. Rhinoplasty and nasal valve surgery are commonly used to treat nasal obstruction that originates at the external nose.
Rhinoplasty procedures are highly individualized, so your doctor should discuss the nature of the procedure as well as the risks and postoperative instructions.
Nasal valve surgery is designed to stabilize or support the side walls of the nose. This holds the nasal valve more open during breathing. Nasal valve surgery can be performed by itself or in conjunction with other nasal procedures. There are two approaches to nasal valve surgery:
Latera nasal implant
Latera nasal implant system
For placement of cartilage in the sides of the nose, a pocket is created on each sidewall of the nose through an incision inside the nose. On each affected side, a piece of cartilage designed to support the sidewall of the nose is placed into the pocket to support an area of narrowing or collapse. The incisions are then closed with stitches.
In addition to the potential for bruising and a minor risk of infection, the major risk associated with the procedure is a slightly wider or fuller appearance to the middle portion of the nose. Although the general appearance of the nose is primarily related to the nasal tip and the shadows at the tip (not affected by this procedure), there will a change in appearance. Because the cartilage graft is typically only 2-3 mm thick, this change in appearance may or may not be noticed by others. Other risks and postoperative instructions are outlined in the Septoplasty page.
Latera allows a surgeon to treat nasal valve collapse without the use of cartilage and with little to no change in the outside appearance of the nose. The implant is placed with a special needle-shaped device and can even be performed in the office. There is a video showing placement of the Latera implant on the company's website
Frontal view of the external nose
Frontal view of the external nose, showing bone and cartilage
The following video presents a discussion of nasal procedures, including rhinoplasty and nasal valve surgery: