One of the most common problems affecting both the primary and secondary rhinoplasty patient is deformity of the alar rim. Typically, this deformity is caused by congenital malpositioning, hypoplasia, or surgical weakening of the lateral crura, with the potential for both functional and aesthetic ramifications. Successful correction and prevention of alar rim deformities requires precise preoperative diagnosis and planning. Multiple techniques of varying complexity have been described to treat this common and challenging problem. Over the past 6 years (1994 through 2000), the authors have employed a simple technique in 123 patients for alar retraction that involves the nonanatomic insertion of an autogenous cartilage buttress into an alar-vestibular pocket. Among the 53 patients who underwent primary rhinoplasty in this study, 91 percent experienced correction or prevention of alar notching or collapse. However, correction was achieved for only 73 percent of the patients who underwent secondary rhinoplasty; many of whom had alar retraction secondary to scarring or lining loss. In patients with moderate or significant lining loss or scarring, a lateral crural strut graft is recommended. The alar contour graft provides the foundation in the patient undergoing primary or secondary rhinoplasty for the reestablishment of a normally functioning external nasal valve and an aesthetically pleasing alar contour. This article discusses the anatomic and aesthetic considerations of alar rim deformities and the indications and the surgical technique for the alar contour graft.
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