From a human evolution perspective, prevailing research suggests that nose shape is first determined by local climate (humid climates vs. dry climates; colder climates vs. warmer ones). People with ancestors from cool, dry climates can generally expect narrow noses and narrower nostrils than those with family from hot, humid locales. In those cases, wide noses with wider nostrils are more common.
When comparing someone of British descent to someone of West African heritage, the climatic effects are clear. But the differences between the nose shape of an East Asian versus South Asian native is more subtle because geography isn't the only factor. The shape of the nose across the human population evolves with age and can be impacted by factors like injury or illness. Within similar ethnic groups, less obvious differences can exist in nose protrusion, nose ridge length, and more (to learn more, check out our guide to Nose Shape Concerns). Fortunately, there are a number of surgical and non-surgical procedures to enhance and perfect the nose shape.
Who might consider nose shaping procedures?
There are a variety of concerns related to the shape of the nose that may be caused by genetics, age, or injury.
- Crooked Nose: Lateral variations in nose shape are often caused by injuries like broken bones. See our more in-depth guide to Nose Angle Concerns.
- Drooping Nose Tip: Also known as ptosis, sagging or drooping can occur when the collagen in the soft lower cartilage part of the nose breaks down during the aging process.
- Low Nasal Bridge: Better known as a 'saddle nose,' the condition, which involves a flattening and loss of height at the bridge as a result of bone loss, can be caused by trauma or the side effect of a medical concern.
- Nose Bump: Whether it's genetic or the result of an injury, nose bumps present as overly pronounced dorsal humps. Check out our deep dive into bumps on the nose.
- Upturned Nose: Commonly referred to as a "celestial nose" or "button nose," an over-rotation of the nose tip (as a result of genetics, trauma, or a previous rhinoplasty) causes the nostrils to be more prominent and creating a disproportionately short or stout appearance.
- Wide Nose: Also known as a 'nubian nose' or 'hawk nose,' a wide nose is most common in African Americans, East Asian, and Hispanic communities and characterized by a broad nasal bridge, expansive nasal tip, or wide nostrils.
Patients dealing with such concerns may wish to alter the shape of their nose with a surgical or non-surgical rhinoplasty (a.k.a nose job) procedure.
What can you expect from a nose shaping procedure?
Whether you’re interested in taking a cue from the latest makeup trends and contouring a more sculpted nasal shape with makeup or wish for a more permanent procedure, there are a number of cosmetic treatment options available. While makeup offers a quick fix, rhinoplasties provide long-term results.
The Anatomy of the Nose
Generally speaking, there are two main types of rhinoplasty techniques — open and closed — which come with varying degrees of invasiveness.
- Open Rhinoplasty: The more invasive option "opens" the nose in a broad way to give the surgeon the most access to the nasal area. An incision made between the nostrils and the flaps of nasal skin are lifted up and off the nose to expose the cartilage and nasal bone during surgery. It is often recommended for patients interested in tip reshaping, straightening a deviated nasal bridge or nasal septum, removing a dorsal hump, or other nasal repairs.
- Closed Rhinoplasty: Unlike its open counterpart, a closed rhinoplasty involves making invasions on the inside of the nose as the nasal bone, cartilage, or septum is operated on. While there is often less swelling and downtime associated with the technique, there are also limitations to how much can be done, especially as it relates to the nasal skin and tip.
As with any surgery, side effects typically include pain, swelling, and possible scarring. Non-surgical techniques, like muscle paralysis and liquid rhinoplasty, also exist for those who do not wish to go under the knife. The scope and longevity of the results may be impacted.
When should you consider a nose shaping procedure?
As with most cosmetic procedures, timing of an operation is generally only limited by active health issues or infection. If a rhinoplasty procedure is being considered for a younger person, age becomes an important factor. Surgeons will not operate on teenagers whose nasal bones have not stopped growing. Girls’ noses generally aren’t considered fully formed until one year after menses (around 15 years old), while boys are usually considered fully grown one year after their last noted growth spurt — around 18 years old.
Why should you consider a nose shaping procedure?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2018 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, there were nearly 215,000 nose reshaping (read: rhinoplasty) procedures performed in the U.S. in 2018 alone. As one of the most cosmetic procedures, there are an array of techniques that can be employed to yield a result that address a number of cosmetic concerns in a way that complements the existing facial features. Additionally, injury or trauma may necessitate a procedure in order to restore previous appearance.
Surgical Nose Shaping Procedures
With a multitude of techniques available, rhinoplasty is the most common and permanent surgical procedure to refine the shape of the nose.
- Cartilage Grafting+
Non-Surgical Nose Shaping Procedures
For patients who are not ready for a surgical procedure or are looking for a temporary solution to their nose shape concerns, there are less invasive, non-surgical treatment options available.
For a more contoured nose without a trip to the plastic surgeon's office, makeup can be used to create the appearance of a more sculpted face and nose.
While different populations, different climates, human evolution, and natural selection have led to a great variety of nose shape and nose measurements, there is a similarly wide array of surgical and non-surgical procedures available to create the ideal nose shape. A consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon will help to ensure you select that treatment that is best for you.