Correction of the Retracted Alar BaseWilliam D. Losquadro, M.D. 1 Anthony Bared, M.D. 2 Dean M. Toriumi, M.D. 21 Mount Kis...
decrease tip bulbosity during traditional endonasal rhino-plasty, although overresection can certainly be accomplishedvia ...
Finally, cocaine abuse results in diffuse mucosal necrosis thatmay result in alar retraction and vestibular stenosis.A fina...
Overly large grafts will roll the nasal lining out of the vestibuleand create the odd appearance of a double alar rim (►Fi...
alar crease, and the pocket is dissected between the vestibularmucosa and soft tissue–skin envelope. Bleeding from thelate...
Figure 11 Patient with severe alar retraction after rhinoplasty. Lateral crural strut grafting with caudal repositioning w...
grafts to lower the retracted alar rim. The senior authorsalgorithm for repairing alar retraction includes auricular com-p...
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Correction of the retracted alar base

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Correction of the retracted alar base

  1. 1. Correction of the Retracted Alar BaseWilliam D. Losquadro, M.D. 1 Anthony Bared, M.D. 2 Dean M. Toriumi, M.D. 21 Mount Kisco Medical Group, Katonah, New York2 Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department ofOtolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Illinois atChicago, Chicago, IllinoisFacial Plast Surg 2012;28:218–224.Address for correspondence and reprint requests Dean M. Toriumi,M.D., Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University ofIllinois at Chicago, Rm. 2.42, 1855 Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60612(e-mail: dtoriumi@uic.edu).Alar base retraction is a common yet difficult problem facedby the rhinoplasty surgeon. It may be caused by weakened,overresected lateral crura, vestibular lining deficiencies, orcongenital alar malpositioning. Retracted alae can mar boththe frontal and lateral view by causing excessive nostril showand an abnormal, snarled appearance. This unnatural look isbothersome to many patients, and they will frequently seekrevision surgery to correct it.No universally accepted technique exists to correct alarretraction. Broadly speaking, methods of correction includesoft tissue manipulation, auricular composite grafting, andcartilage grafting. Guyuron described vestibular V-Yadvance-ment flaps to correct alar retraction and the alar concavityseen on the base view.1Jung and colleagues described acutaneous alar rotation flap combined with conventionalbatten grafts for cases of severe retraction.2Auricular composite grafts have been utilized for manyyears for correction of short noses.3Many authors havedescribed composite graft placement in various orientationswithin the nasal vestibule. Regardless of where within thevestibule the graft is sutured, the goal is the same—to expandthe vestibular lining and move the ala caudally.The design and placement of cartilage grafts to correct alarretraction have been more variable. Alar rim grafts have beenused by various authors to correct mild deformities. Gunterand Friedman described lateral crural strut graft placementand lateral crural repositioning to correct alar retraction.4Naficy and Baker described an interposition graft wedgedbetween the upper and lower lateral cartilages to lengthen ashort nose.5Gruber and colleagues utilized a similar grafttermed an intercartilaginous graft to correct or prevent alarretraction.6DiagnosisThe alae are curving, three-dimensional structures that mustbe analyzed from the frontal, lateral, and basal views to fullycomprehend their anatomy. The ideal alar-columellar rela-tionship on the frontal and lateral views was described byGunter and colleagues.7On the frontal view, the verticaldistances from the highest point of the alar rim to the tip-defining points and columellar-tip lobular angle should beequal (►Fig. 1). This relationship is easier to appreciate on thelateral view, where the distance from the highest point of thealar rim drawn perpendicularly to the columella should be $2to 4 mm (►Fig. 2). A useful, related concept when analyzingthe frontal view is the alar-columellar contour. A line tracingthe alar rims around the infratip lobule should approximate agentle V or “gull in flight”; exaggeration of this contoursuggests alar retraction, a hanging columella, or both.Guyuron further described alar anatomy on the basal view.1The ideal nasal base should fit within an equilateral triangle,and thus the alar rims should be relatively straight. Weak orexcessively thick alae will be too concave or convex, respec-tively, and fall outside this imagined triangle.A common cause of alar retraction is weakened lateralcrura from prior rhinoplasty (►Fig. 3). Overaggressive ce-phalic trimming of the lateral crura was commonly used toKeywords► rhinoplasty► alar retraction► lateral crural strutgraft► composite graftAbstract Alar base retraction is a common yet difficult problem faced by the rhinoplasty surgeon.It may be caused by weakened, overresected lateral crura, vestibular lining deficiencies,or congenital alar malpositioning. Methods of correction include soft tissue manipula-tion, auricular composite grafting, and cartilage grafting. We present the seniorauthors graded approach to alar retraction using auricular composite grafting, alarrim grafting, and lateral crural strut graft placement with caudal lateral cruralrepositioning.Issue Theme Nuances of the Nasal Tip;Guest Editor, Stephen S. Park, M.D.Copyright © 2012 by Thieme MedicalPublishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue,New York, NY 10001, USA.Tel: +1(212) 584-4662.DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0032-1309302.ISSN 0736-6825.218Downloadedby:RushUniversity.Copyrightedmaterial.
  2. 2. decrease tip bulbosity during traditional endonasal rhino-plasty, although overresection can certainly be accomplishedvia the external approach. The relentless forces of scarcontracture will narrow the cartilaginous void between theupper lateral cartilage and remaining lateral crus, and the alacan retract over time if its intrinsic strength is insufficient tocounteract these forces. Patients will notice slowly increasingnostril show on the frontal view. This condition may beexacerbated by excessive tip rotation via an analogous process(scar contracture between the medial crura and septum afterresection of the anterior septal angle; ►Fig. 4).Alar retraction may also be caused by soft tissue deficien-cies. Primary closure of nasal Mohs defects may pull the alarrim cephalad. Similarly, local flap reconstruction of defectswith a bilobed flap often retracts one or both nostrils. Thisanatomic distortion tends to slowly abate as the skinstretches, but oversized defects or undersized flaps may leavepermanent deformities.Vestibular lining defects are frequent secondary causes ofalar retraction. Lining defects may be due to skin cancerresection, previous rhinoplasty, or necrosis from cocaineabuse or environmental toxins. Secondary intention healingof lining defects can pull alar rims upward. Scar contracturefrom deliberate mucosal resection or poorly closed marginalor intercartilaginous incisions will produce the same effect.Figure 1 Alar-columellar relationship on frontal view; vertical dis-tance between columella lobular angle and the tip-defining points isdivided in half by a horizontal line drawn through the highest point ofboth alar rims. (From Gunter JP, Friedman RM. Lateral crural strut graft:technique and clinical applications in rhinoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg1997;99:943–952.4)Figure 2 Alar-columellar relationship on lateral view showing distancefrom axis B to A should equal distance from axis B to C. (From Gunter JP,Friedman RM. Lateral crural strut graft: technique and clinical appli-cations in rhinoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg 1997;99:943–952.4)Figure 3 Close-up frontal view (A) and lateral view (B) of a patient withbilateral alar retraction as a complication of previous rhinoplasty.Figure 4 Frontal view of patient with (after rhinoplasty) excessive tiprotation exacerbating nostril show.Facial Plastic Surgery Vol. 28 No. 2/2012Correction of the Retracted Alar Base Losquadro et al. 219Downloadedby:RushUniversity.Copyrightedmaterial.
  3. 3. Finally, cocaine abuse results in diffuse mucosal necrosis thatmay result in alar retraction and vestibular stenosis.A final cause of alar base retraction is the patients nativeanatomy. Some patients have primary alar retraction second-ary to weak, cephalically malpositioned lateral crura orvariant soft tissue anatomy. A hanging columella will exacer-bate the severity of alar retraction by causing excessivecolumellar show on the lateral view. Shortening the noseand rotating the tip will lessen the need to pull the alacaudally. Lengthening a short nose in the central compart-ment (columella and tip) without bringing down the ala tocomplement the position of the central compartment canresult in alar retraction as well.Knowledge of prior rhinoplasty or Mohs reconstruction isimportant during the patient consultation. A history of co-caine abuse will alert the surgeon to a contracted vestibularlining contributing to the alar retraction. Inspection of thealar anatomy on the frontal, lateral, and base views is imper-ative. Photographs may better demonstrate irregularitiesbecause proper lighting provides better contrast betweenconvexities and concavities. Photographic analysis also helpsdescribe abnormalities to patients. Palpation of the ala is veryimportant. Pulling the ala caudally allows assessment of theseverity of scarring and the amount of possible movement. Afixed, scarred ala may not permit lowering, and the patientneeds to be counseled that minimal improvement should beexpected. Additionally, congenitally retracted ala are moredifficult to correct as the soft tissue envelope itself may belimited and not allow significant correction of the retraction.Intranasal examination should look for vestibular scars andwebs. This often indicates a lack of nasal lining, and thepatient should be counseled that auricular composite graftingmay be necessary.TreatmentThe method chosen to correct alar base retraction is deter-mined by the retractions cause and severity, and the follow-ing represents the senior authors graded approach. When adeficiency in vestibular lining causes the retraction, auricularcomposite grafting will be necessary with or without lateralcrural repositioning. With regard to severity, mild, focalretractions may be corrected with auricular composite graft-ing or alar rim grafting. Moderate to severe deformitiesrequire lateral crural strut grafting and repositioning withor without composite grafting to close intranasal vestibularskin deficiencies. Correction of concomitant nasal deformitiessuch as a hanging columella will permit less caudal alarmovement to balance overall tip aesthetics.Minor cases of alar retraction may be treated with auricu-lar composite grafts sutured into the nasal vestibule. Graftscan be excised from the cymba concha in an elliptical fashion,although the entire conchal bowl may be resected if a largegraft is necessary (►Figs. 5A and 5B). A marginal incision ismade within the vestibular mucosa parallel to the area ofgreatest retraction. The pocket is dissected to allow the alarmargin to move caudally. The graft is then placed into thepocket (►Fig. 6) and sewn into the defect using 5–0 chromicgut sutures. If the retraction is more severe and a compositegraft larger than 1 cm is used, it is advisable to make the skinisland of the composite graft slightly smaller than the carti-lage portion of the graft. This will allow the mucosal sutureline to overlap onto the perichondrium of the cartilage. Thisoverlap allows more rapid vascular ingrowth into the graftand will improve graft survival. Small auricular defects maybe closed primarily; larger defects require full-thickness skingrafting to prevent auricular distortion, and the postauricularcrease is an excellent donor site for the skin graft. After closingthe postauricular incision primarily, a cotton bolster coveredin antibiotic ointment is sutured transauricularly with 3–0nylon. The bolster remains in place for approximately 2 weeksto prevent hematoma formation and promote graft take.Alar rims move only a finite distance with compositegrafting, so restraint is advised in cases of severe retraction.Figure 5 (A) Composite graft harvested from cymba concha of theright ear. (B) Composite graft harvested.Figure 6 Composite graft placed into the defect at the marginalincision prior to suturing the graft.Facial Plastic Surgery Vol. 28 No. 2/2012Correction of the Retracted Alar Base Losquadro et al.220Downloadedby:RushUniversity.Copyrightedmaterial.
  4. 4. Overly large grafts will roll the nasal lining out of the vestibuleand create the odd appearance of a double alar rim (►Fig. 7).The vibrissae will continue to grow externally and necessitateconstant attention.Minor cases of retraction may sometimes be addressedwith alar rim grafts. These thin, needle-shaped grafts areinserted into a pocket dissected caudal to the marginalincision at the true alar rim (►Fig. 8). The grafts are securedwith a single 6–0 Monocryl suture. Alar rim grafts also serveto preserve the tip-alar highlight and maintain the ideal,straight rim contour on the base view.The senior author now employs a technique similar to thatdescribed by Gunter and Friedman of lateral crural strutgrafting and caudal repositioning of the lateral crura formoderate to severe alar retraction.4This technique is aneffective means of moving the entire nostril base in a caudaldirection. This method is not recommended for focal alarretraction. In most cases, the lateral crura are dissected freefrom the underlying vestibular mucosa (►Fig. 9). The mucosacan beveryadherent, so injection and hydraulic dissectionwithlocal anesthetic facilitate the dissection. The injection willsometimes permit blunt dissection from medial to laterally.The lateral crus can be divided near its attachment with thesesamoid cartilages; it is not necessary to remove all remainingpieces laterally. Lateral crural strut grafts are fashioned fromseptal or rib cartilage; auricular cartilage is often insufficient forthis technique because its weakness necessitates thicker grafts.Graft dimensions are $25 mm to 30 Â 5 Â 1.5 mm; strongerrib cartilage may be carved thinner than septal cartilage. It isimperative that the lateral crural strut graft be curved with theconcave side of the graft placed medially to allow preservationof the nasal airway. The graft is sutured to the underside of thelateral crura remnants using 5–0 polydioxanne (PDS) tied onthe cutaneous side ; knots on the vestibular side may erodethrough the thin vestibular mucosa.A new pocket is then dissected caudally to the lateralcruras original position. The dissection is angled toward theFigure 7 Oblique view of patient with an exposed composite graftpushing vestibular skin below the nostril margin. Note the double alarrim appearance and the external growth of the vibrissae.Figure 8 Alar rim graft. A narrow and tight pocket is created justcaudal to the marginal incision and a thin strip of cartilage is placed andsecured.Figure 9 (A) The lower lateral crura are dissected free from thevestibular skin. (B) Lateral crural strut grafts are sutured onto theundersurface of the freely dissected lower lateral cartilages.(C) Pockets are dissected laterally and their position depends on theextent of caudal repositioning needed to correct the alar retraction.The dissected lateral crura/lateral crural strut complex is placed intothe caudally positioned pockets.Facial Plastic Surgery Vol. 28 No. 2/2012Correction of the Retracted Alar Base Losquadro et al. 221Downloadedby:RushUniversity.Copyrightedmaterial.
  5. 5. alar crease, and the pocket is dissected between the vestibularmucosa and soft tissue–skin envelope. Bleeding from thelateral nasal vessels is frequently encountered and stopsspontaneously. The pockets position varies dependingupon the distance the ala needs to be moved. If one ala ishigher than the other, the pocket is made more caudal on theside with the higher ala. The lateral crural strut graft is gentlyinserted into the pocket; brittle, calcified rib grafts mayfracture and require replacement.In addition to the caudal alar movement, lateral crurarepositioning supports the airway and improves tip aes-thetics. Weakened, malpositioned lateral crura often causealar retraction; lateral crura strut grafts widen the vestibularairway, resist dynamic inspiratory collapse, and correct su-pra-alar pinching. The strut also flattens large, bulbous lowerlateral cartilages and decreases tip bulbosity when correctionis resistant to dome-binding sutures alone. Repositioning thelateral crura caudally also moves volume from the supratip tocaudal tip. This prevents shadows from isolating the tip bymaintaining the tip-alar highlight. The marginal incisionrequires inspection after caudal repositioning. A mucosalgap may exist in patients with preoperative lining deficien-cies or in those who have undergone nasal lengthening. If atest suture retracts the alar rim, the vestibular lining isunlikely to stretch postoperatively, and the retraction willpersist. Placement of an auricular composite graft will expandthe vestibular lining and preserve the newly created alarcontour (►Fig. 6).Lateral nasal wall splints will help prevent graft displace-ment and sidewall thickening after lateral crural reposition-ing. Thin, 0.25-mm, fluoroplastic septal splints are cut, placedboth intranasally and externally, and secured with a singletransnasal 3–0 nylon suture (►Fig. 10). The knot should notbe tied very tightly as this can, in rare instances, causelocalized skin necrosis. The suture can be loosened by placinga scissor under the suture. Swabbing povidone-iodine anti-septic beneath the splints helps prevent comedone formation.The nose can be taped and casted in the regular manner, andthe splints removed during suture and cast removal.Lateral crural grafting is a very effective method of treatingalar and nostril retraction (►Figs. 11 and 12). Disadvantagesof lateral crural strut grafting and caudal repositioninginclude increased complexity, postoperative edema, and tipwidth/alar flare. Dissecting the lateral crura free, placinglateral crural strut grafts, and repositioning them in morecaudal pockets takes time and introduces a substantialamount of variability. This complex technique should bereserved for more severe cases of alar retraction and shouldbe performed with great caution to avoid creating deformity.Graft placement into tissue previously devoid of cartilagecombined with injury to lateral nasal vessels may contributeto more postoperative edema. Last, caudal repositioning canwiden the alar base and cause a substantial amount of alarflare. The flare can often be corrected with base excisions. Theoverall alar contour and preoperative nostril size will dictatewhether internal or external base excisions should be uti-lized. Forgoing excisions when their need is questionable isprudent; it may be performed in the future if necessary.ConclusionAlar base retraction is a commonly encountered problem inrevision rhinoplasty. Various authors have advocated soft tissuetechniques, auricular composite grafting, and assorted cartilageFigure 10 Lateral wall splints are applied to the nasal sidewalls topreserve position of the lateral crural strut grafts. (A) Splints cut.(B) Splints placed. (C) Splints sutured in place. (D) Suture loosened toavoid vascular compromise.Facial Plastic Surgery Vol. 28 No. 2/2012Correction of the Retracted Alar Base Losquadro et al.222Downloadedby:RushUniversity.Copyrightedmaterial.
  6. 6. Figure 11 Patient with severe alar retraction after rhinoplasty. Lateral crural strut grafting with caudal repositioning was used to correct theretraction. (A, C, E, and G) Preoperative views. (B, D, F, and H) Postoperative views. Note correction of severe alar retraction with symmetricnostrils postoperatively.Figure 12 Patient with severe alar retraction after rhinoplasty. She also has a prominent infratip lobule on frontal view. Lateral crural strutgrafting with caudal repositioning was used to correct the alar retraction. The columella was elevated as well to help correct the hanging tip lobule.(A, C, E, and G) Preoperative views. (B, D, F, and H) Postoperative views. Note correction of severe alar retraction and nasal tip deformity.Postoperative frontal view shows improvement of the prominent nasal tip lobule.Facial Plastic Surgery Vol. 28 No. 2/2012Correction of the Retracted Alar Base Losquadro et al. 223Downloadedby:RushUniversity.Copyrightedmaterial.
  7. 7. grafts to lower the retracted alar rim. The senior authorsalgorithm for repairing alar retraction includes auricular com-posite or alar rim grafting for small, focal retractions and lateralcrural strut grafting with caudal repositioning for more severecases of alar retraction. Caudal repositioning is a powerfultechnique for lowering the alar rim and nostril base andrecreating aesthetic alar base contours.References1 Guyuron B. Alar rim deformities. Plast Reconstr Surg2001;107:856–8632 Jung DH, Kwak ES, Kim HS. Correction of severe alar retractionwith use of a cutaneous alar rotation flap. Plast Reconstr Surg2009;123:1088–10953 Toriumi DM, Patel AB, DeRosa J. Correcting the short nose inrevision rhinoplasty. Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am2006;14:343–355, vi4 Gunter JP, Friedman RM. Lateral crural strut graft: technique andclinical applications in rhinoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg1997;99:943–952; discussion 953–9555 Naficy S, Baker SR. Lengthening the short nose. Arch OtolaryngolHead Neck Surg 1998;124:809–8136 Gruber RP, Kryger G, Chang D. The intercartilaginous graft foractual and potential alar retraction. Plast Reconstr Surg2008;121:288e–296e7 Gunter JP, Rohrich RJ, Friedman RM. Classification and correctionof alar-columellar discrepancies in rhinoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg1996;97:643–648Facial Plastic Surgery Vol. 28 No. 2/2012Correction of the Retracted Alar Base Losquadro et al.224Downloadedby:RushUniversity.Copyrightedmaterial.

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