Rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty patients commonly ask what their ear is going to look like following nasal reshaping procedures where a portion of the ear is used for grafting purposes. In my practice, which emphasizes rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty, ear cartilage grafting, or auricular cartilage grafting, is done on a routine basis. The cartilage is taken from the ear and used to help reconstruct and reshape the nose in cases where the existing cartilage of the nose is insufficient to provide the desired shape. In primary rhinoplasty cases, this is often times in patients who have moderately thick skin and/or in those who desire elevation of the bridge height. In revision rhinoplasty cases, auricular cartilage grafting is frequently done in patients who had too much cartilage removed during their previous nasal reshaping surgery. When I take cartilage from the ear for grafting purposes, I use an incision made behind the ear. In this manner, there is no visible scarring that might be seen from the front or the side. If you take the central portion of the ear cartilage and preserve just the right amount, there really is no change to the shape of ear. Many patients undergoing this type of rhinoplasty procedure inquire whether or not their ear is going to look the same still. The answer is that most patients will have great difficulty seeing any real change in the shape of their ear following auricular cartilage grafting. The attached photo is a revision rhinoplasty patient of mine from San Diego who underwent ear cartilage grafting as part of her reconstructive nose surgery. As you can see in the photo, which was taken 5 days after surgery, there is barely any sign I was ever there! One can see some mild discoloration from the bruising, but the ear looks quite natural without any obvious stigmata of having had surgery.
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