Open rhinoplasty vs. closed rhinoplasty – there is a lot of bandying about of these terms by perspective patients. The “open rhinoplasty” describes an operative technique by which an external incision is made to gain access to the interior of the nose. This is in distinction to the “closed rhinoplasty” in which all incisions are made entirely within the nasal interior.
There are disciples, defendants and proponents of each within the nasal cosmetic plastic surgery community. It is a matter of the surgeon’s preference as to which technique he is most comfortable with for a given case. The nasal cosmetic surgery super-specialist will be adept at both techniques. He or she will choose a technique that seems appropriate for the case at hand.
Generally, younger surgeons appear to prefer the open technique because that is the way they have been trained. In the last twenty years that technique gained popularity, initially as a teaching device since it is easier for a student or trainee to see the nasal contour through the open approach. The more veteran nasal cosmetic surgeons were trained using the closed technique and generally were comfortable with it. But, it is not difficult for the highly experienced and specialized nasal surgeon to master the open rhinoplasty technique.
If you have never seen a photograph or a sketch of the open rhinoplasty, understand that using a horizontal incision connecting the two nostrils just below the tip, the skin is lifted as one would lift the hood of a car. Then one gets access to see the tip cartilages and when a certain instrument is placed through that opening, one can even see up to the bridge of the nose. No question that, for the novice and inexperienced surgeon or occasional rhinoplasty surgeon, this exposure is advantageous.
The open rhinoplasty tradeoff is the external scar which, while generally heals well, in some patients doesn’t. Also, there is the uncertainty of how much tightening or contracture could take place during the healing.
The closed rhinoplasty, done entirely within the nose, does take greater manual dexterity and the technical facility to perform an operation “through a keyhole”. Experienced surgeons will tell you that their visualization is not impaired, and in fact, this approach of course has been used for nearly 100 years with great success.
Of ultimate importance is that the surgeon be comfortable with his or her favorite technique. If you have confidence in the surgeon, have confidence in his or her judgment. Most likely, you will also be comfortable with the results that the chosen technique delivers.
If you are concerned about the visibility of the open rhinoplasty’s incision, ask to see many before and after open rhinoplasty photographs, particularly close-ups. Then, you can evaluate for yourself the visibility or lack of visibility of the external incision.
- Robert Kotler, MD, FACS