How Do Your Nostrils Shape Up?

One thing-actually, two things-that can throw off the balance of your face are your nostrils. If they are too wide or too narrow, they can take too much attention away from your other more alluring features, like your eyes and lips.

We asked Madison, WI, facial plastic surgeon Richard Parfitt, MD, to describe what makes up a well-balanced set of nostrils. “The width, from the front view, of the nostrils should be about one fifth of the width of the entire face,” he says. “This also happens to be about the width of the person's eye.”

When looking from a base view, the nostril should be about two-thirds the length from the base of the nose to the tip of the nose. From the side, the flesh that sits between the nostrils, called the columella, should have about 3 mm showing and the side of the nostril should have just a bit of an arch, Dr. Parfitt explains.

“The most common complaint [from patients] is having nostrils that are too wide or too flared,” he says. “Next would be having too much ‘columellar show' or too much arching of the lateral nostril.”

Although a nose job may sound like a grueling surgery with a long recovery, surgically adjusting the shape of the nostrils takes only about 15 minutes with stitches that stay in less than a week.

“There are times when just reducing the size or changing the shape of the nostrils is the only procedure necessary to bring everything into proportion,” Dr. Parfitt says. “Most of the time, it's simply a matter of removing a segment of the nostril rim where the lateral rim attaches to the face.” However, if the tip of the nose needs to be addressed, the surgery becomes more complex.

“Rhinoplasty and nasal aesthetics is all about proportions,” he says. “To get the ideal proportions, often it's not enough just to narrow the width of the base, but, to maintain an equilateral triangle, the projection of the tip must be adjusted as well.”

With age, you may have noticed a change in your nose. Gravity and loss of fat under the skin can cause the tip to settle downward and your nostrils can appear larger. One way to lessen the flare of the nostrils is through use of a neurotoxin like Botox of Dysport, Dr. Parfitt says. “Judicious use can affect and relax these nostril-flaring muscles.”

Do you think your nostrils throw your face off balance? What are some of the ways you've considered adjusting them? Let us know your experiences.

Related:
A Nose Job Can Make You Look Younger

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