Whether it’s a sagging neck, greying hair or an accumulation of dark spots, many of our features change as we age, but it may come as a surprise that our noses can change shape and size as we get older, too. While this fact may spark panic, plastic surgeons say it’s never too early to start investing in preventative measures and, on the other hand, it’s not too late to hit rewind.
Why do our noses droop?
“Our noses, just like any other part of our body, undergo predictable changes related to the effects of aging and gravity,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Edward S. Kwak, MD, who explains that nasal drooping typically starts in our late thirties and early forties. “During this time, the cartilage that comprises the shape of the tip loosens, causing the tip to derotate (droop) and splay (widen). These changes are a result of a loss of tone in the ligaments and a dramatic loss of collagen.”
Nashville plastic surgeon Daniel Hatef, MD says the concept of drooping noses is easier to comprehend if we think about it like a three-dimensional fence. “As we age, that fence weakens and sags. When the ligamentous support of the nasal tip weakens, the tip drops with gravity. The second reason our nose drops is because there is hyperactivity of the muscles of the face, and so the nasal depressor muscles are overactive and contributing to the inferior rotation of the tip.”
What are ways to fix a drooping nose?
Dr. Hatef says intervention from a doctor is necessary to fix nasal tip aging. “There are a few ways we can correct an aging nasal tip in the office,” he says. “The first is by placing a bit of filler in the tip. I use a cannula, a tube made for the delivery of fluid, and place it between the dome cartilages, approaching it from the skin overlying the tip cartilages as well as through the skin at the junction between the columella—the area between the nostrils—and the inferior tip.” While fillers are commonly used to lift the nasal tip, they may cause issues with skin necrosis.
Another in-office procedure Dr. Kwak recommends for patients struggling with a drooping nose is a tip rhinoplasty. For this procedure, he uses grafts and sutures to rotate the tip upwards and fix it there. This is a different technique than a regular rhinoplasty, a nose-reshaping procedure that Smithtown, NY facial plastic surgeon James C. Marotta, MD often uses to address a drooping nose.
“A rhinoplasty is really the only definitive way to correct a drooping nose,” says Dr. Marotta. “In a rhinoplasty, drooping tips can be restructured with cartilage or sutures to elevate the tip into a more pleasing position.” Dr. Kwak adds that a rhinoplasty helps adress the structural changes related to aging by supporting the tip through use of cartilage grafts. “I have heard about patients using nasal cones or splints placed in the nose, but I do not recommend these treatment options for my patients as they could lead to infections, retained foreign bodies or aspiration,” he adds.
Outside of the rhinoplasty, Dr. Marotta says “threadlifts can be performed on the nose to lift the skin of the nasal tip, but the success is usually short-lived and less than ideal.”
Are there any lifestyle changes that can prevent a drooping nose?
While surgery or fillers are the only ways to fix a drooping nose, Dr. Kwak says there are a few anti-aging lifestyle changes that can help with prevention. “Treatments such as a healthy, well-balanced diet (foods rich in zinc, vitamin C and chlorophyll), good sleep habits and avoiding smoking are common foundations for a good anti-aging regimen.” He also explains that taking dietary supplements such as collagen and ginseng under the guidance of a medical professional may be beneficial, however there is not much evidence that this can prevent a drooping nose. Dr. Marotta also adds that avoiding the sun and exercising daily are two other ways to help prevent aging in the nasal tissues.