A nose implant is a device made of a biological or synthetic biocompatible material and used for supporting or building up the nasal structure. Typically, the nose implants are used in nasal reconstruction to correct aesthetic deformities (caused by nasal collapse and accidental trauma) or to get rid of nasal obstruction caused by autoimmune disease, trauma, cancer and infection. When an implant suits and satisfies individual requirements, it is called a favored implant. But all implants are usually designed according to the shape of the nose.
Uses of Nose Implants
Nose implants are invaluable for augmentation of the dorsum. The dorsum is the bridge that runs from the eyebrows to the tip of the nose. With an implant, a flat bridge, side or tip of the nose can be lifted without rhinoplasty. Secondly, nose implants can help to correct any collapse on the right or left side of the nose, enabling the nose to be straightened again. In fact, the implants are often used to lift up drooping tips or to increase the naso-labial angle.
Similarly, nose implants are used in revision rhinoplasty, especially when excessive cartilage was removed in a previous operation. Likewise, a patient who finds it difficult to breathe because of a weak nose valve can get a nose implant to get rid of the problem. Moreover, nose implants are an inexpensive and easy-to-use method for correcting bigger or smaller nose bridges and drooping nose tips.
Types of Nose Implants
Nose implants are made of materials that are harvested from the same patient, obtained from a donor or manufactured from synthetic and semi-synthetic materials. Therefore, the implants are classified as:
(a) Autograft: This is a nose implant made from cartilage (conchal, septal, costal) or soft tissue (dermis, fascia) that has been harvested from the same patient. Autografts are preferred over other types of nose implants because they do not have the risks of incompatibility, toxicity or rejection.
(b) Homograft: Are implants made of cadaveric dermal materials or irradiated rib cartilage. Cadaveric dermal implants are used as onlay grafts or for hiding minor irregularities while rib cartilage grafts are used in structural grafting.
(c) Alloplast: These are nose implants made of synthetic polymers. There are three common types of alloplasts, namely:
(i) Silicone implants: Are nose implants made of silicone rubber. They have been used for several years and are highly effective in thick-skinned people such as Asians.
(ii) Expanded Polytetrafluorethylene (e-PTFE) Implants: These are micro-porous (pore size of 20 micrometers), soft and flexible implants that allow for host tissue in-growth and nose volume enhancement. They offer sufficient stability and allow for easy implant removal. However, they are never used as structural grafts.
(iii) Porous High-Density Polyethylene (PHDPE) Implants: Made of a porous PHDPE polymer which is easy to sculpt into desired shapes, the nose implants come in different shapes and sizes, and are used for soft tissue augmentation and structural support.
Materials Used to Create Nasal Implants
Plastic surgeons can decide to use materials obtained from the body to modify the nose. For example, a surgeon can use part of a bone, soft tissue or cartilage from the same patient to create a nose implant. Usually, surgeons prefer to use cartilage from the patient’s nose to create the implants, but when the cartilage in a patient’s nose is weak, other materials may be considered. Synthetic materials such as Silicone, Medpor and Gore-Tex are commonly used for creating implants, but biologically derived materials such as irradiated rib cartilage and cadaveric dermal materials are also used.
Who Should Go For Nose Implants?
The first consideration before a person can go for a nose implant is health status. Patients must be healthy before they can get nose implants because individuals with health problems are usually more prone to infections and other complications. Therefore, a diabetic patient or a heavy smoker is not a perfect candidate for implants. In fact, heavy smokers who want to get the implants must first quit smoking and wait for a few months to have their health status reviewed before they can qualify for the procedure.
Secondly, patients with heavy or thick skin are ideal candidates for nose implants. The thick skin will not allow the nose implant to be visible, reducing any cosmetic concerns you may have with it. Thirdly, patients should get the implants only after being recommended by plastic surgeons. A surgeon is better placed to review your medical history and nose anatomy and to recommend the best way to use an implant to improve the structure of your nose.