Use of Sail Excision in Alar Morphology Modification of Asian Noses
Keywords:alarplasty, alarlift, hanging ala, asian nose, sail excision technique, nasal alar modification, globular alae, rhinoplasty
Globular hanging nasal alae, described as convex round shaped alar lobule which may be an aesthetic nuisance in the final result of rhinoplasty, are commonly seen among Southeast Asian noses. Such alar lobule morphology is an important part of nasal aesthetics and should not be disregarded. Surgical techniques used to address a hanging ala include direct external approaches. External rim excision was proposed to address hidden columella, sigmoid alae, small nostrils, dropped rim and foreshortened nose.1,2 Rim tissue was excised in full thickness fashion and sutured in one layer. Others proposed alar groove excision followed by alar repositioning and full-thickness skin grafting to reposition the alar base and correct hanging alae.3 Although these approaches have been proven to correct hanging alae, they leave a visible scar and/or permanent alar rim deformity if not done cautiously, especially on thick skinned patients.1-3 The alar rim may not be natural looking since it is lined by a scar, thus losing the lobular texture of the rim. A vestibular incision has been proposed to correct a hanging ala with unsightly scar.4 A maximum of 3mm elliptical vestibular skin was recommended to be removed to lift the alar rim with significant results. However, this recommendation was based on estimates and surgeon’s experience in western noses and may be insufficient for Asian noses. In addition, performing this technique without specific landmarks is difficult in achieving accurate results, especially when performed by a novice surgeon. Hence, further modification is important to address these concerns.
Attempting to address the hanging alae in Asian noses, the senior author (ECY) modified the vestibular incision and came up with the sail excision technique based on the patient’s nasal anatomy.5 By presenting definite landmarks, the technique resulted in an alar lift procedure with reproducible outcomes. Furthermore, after performing sail excision in several patients, the authors noted the effect of this technique on alar morphology. This procedure is done by excising a precisely marked piece of inner nasal vestibular skin that is shaped like the sail of a boat to achieve a symmetrical and redictable result. This creates a lifting effect and improves the alar columellar disproportion specially when combined with septal advancement techniques.6,7
Furthermore, limiting the excision along the inner vestibular area and rolling the alar rim skin inwards results in correction of hanging ala (with a hidden scar) without an obvious, external scar. After performing the technique on several patients, we observed that in addition to its effect on lifting a hanging ala, the sail excision technique also changes the alar morphology from a globular-shaped lobule to a more aesthetically pleasing ridge-shaped lobule. To the best of our knowledge, such an effect of sail excision on alar morphology has not been described in the literature.
This article aims to demonstrate the effect of the sail excision technique on alar rim morphology of Asian noses by describing the step-by-step procedure, surgical landmarks, and pearls in performing this technique.
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