Rhinoplasty aesthetics is a tricky subject to discuss. There are ethnic differences. People have different opinions on what they find attractive, and there are also practical aspects to consider.
Eyelid surgery involves skin excision, fat removal, or creating a supratarsal crease. Nasal surgery involves altering a 3D structure and there is the nasal airway, overlying skin, and underlying cartilage to consider.
What makes a beautiful nose?
Ideas of beauty differ between cultures it determines the aesthetic goals of people seeking cosmetic surgery. With eyelids and facelifts, the concern is mainly about reversing aging. With noses, the aim is to modify appearance.
What is the most common nose shape in Rhinoplasty?
In some cultures, the aim is to look as “normal” as possible, for example, correcting of a crooked nose. The latest trend among some young people is to get a K-Pop-inspired nose with an unnatural pinched tip.
In a way, it is sometimes like the Samsung vs. iPhone comparison. Westerners tend to seek “harmony” in facial features, whereas East Asians tend to prefer a more altered look. It is like the difference between iPhones and Samsung mobile phones. The iPhone’s camera gives a more natural photo, while the Samsung photos are brighter and more exaggerated.
What is the ideal nose?
Surgeons are taught to avoid making patients look like they have had a nose job. The goal is to achieve a natural result, not one that appears “done”. These factors influence what is considered an ideal nose:
Singapore is a multicultural society and each group has slightly different needs when it comes to rhinoplasty. The common ideals are usually: a “high” nose bridge, a straight nose, and a sharp tip. That is what people commonly say but what happens in reality is slightly different.
Caucasians are more likely to want reduction. The oriental races are most likely to want to make the nose bigger. An ethnic Indian is more likely to seek surgery to correct a crooked nose.
It is not that Oriental people always have straight noses. When your nose is small, a crooked nose is less obvious. Small noses are less likely to get injured and become crooked.
Nobody’s face is symmetrical. You wouldn’t want a perfectly symmetric face because it looks weird.
This also means that the nose will not be perfectly symmetric. Patients often get distressed about every little bit of asymmetry after a Rhinoplasty because they keep looking at their noses. Some of these “imperfections” have always existed but the patient did not notice them because he/she did not scrutinise their nose so much until after a rhinoplasty.
A common reaction we face is “My nose job was good and I look better, but some parts could be sharper or higher.”
The moral of the story is: be realistic in your expectations. Rhinoplasty is not magic. Discuss your expectations with your surgeon thoroughly to avoid misunderstanding.
Patients are often satisfied with the Rhinoplasty initially but start feeling dissatisfied a few weeks later. This is when they have recovered from the surgery and start meeting friends. Someone will inevitably make some unkind remark that will change the patient’s opinion. Be confident in what you want and do not let others sway your opinions.
When deciding what you want from your rhinoplasty, always consider the effects on function. You may like a pinched, K-pop type of nose tip but it may not suit your face and it may reduce airflow through the nose.
Ask your surgeon about the risks of getting the nose you want. It is in the interests of your surgeon to recommend something safe because no doctor wants complications.
How to make the right choice
Don’t just look at one part of the nose, consider how the nose affects the appearance of the whole face.
Look at these celebrity photos.
Try this: Do not start by looking at the pre-op appearance. Start by looking at the post-op appearance first. Try to spot which celebrity, clearly has had a nose job.
If you can tell whose nose is fake, that was not a good rhinoplasty because it looks “done”. The goal of a nose job is not to look unnatural.
Look at the overall appearance of the face, not just the nose. If you notice someone’s unnaturally well-defined nose tip or a very straight nose bridge that looks like a piece of plastic, it is a poorly done rhinoplasty, usually a silicone implant. The nose should not attract attention to itself but draw attention to the eyes. This is the meaning of having a harmonious face.
What many patients do is to compare their pre and post-op photos to see how much has changed. To them, a big change between the pre and post-op appearance means money well spent. Never mind if it looks unnatural.
Instead, one should judge whether the subtle changes have made a difference to the overall appearance of the face.
Western ideals of good cosmetic surgery mean achieving a natural appearance. In contrast, East Asians do not mind a nose that does not look ethnically appropriate.
When considering a change in your nose shape, these are important areas:
As mentioned, the smartest thing to do is not to focus on a part of the nose but on the overall effect of the nose on the face.
The Upper Nose
This region comprises the bony structure of the nose. Surgery to this part is usually to correct crooked nasal bones or to raise the nose bridge.
The Middle of the Nose
The middle section of the nose primarily consists of cartilage. The common complaints about this part of the nose are that is is crooked or too broad.
The Nose Tip
The tip is the most delicate part to re-shape. Changing one part of the three-dimensional structure affects the symmetry and integrity of the entire structure.
You may see a photo of a nose that is attractive and wish to have it. Check if your skin is the same as the model’s in the photo.
Some Asian people have thick oily skin over the nasal tip. People who have this type of skin usually have broad, rounded tips. No matter how well you shape the nose’s cartilage, the thick skin will still hide some of the delicate surgery.
Altering any part of the nose alters the cross-sectional size of the nasal airway at that part. Reducing this too much reduces the air-flow, resulting in a blocked nose.
Nose Shape Personality Traits
Some people want to change their nose because they think it shows bad personality traits, based on Facial Physiognomy beliefs.
Some people believe changing the shape of their noses brings them good fengshui. The most common change people ask for is raising the nose bridge.
Different Types of Nose Shapes
If you surf the internet, you will see many websites describing these types of noses:
People often associate a straight nose shape, with a straight bridge and balanced appearance, with balance and harmony.
This nose shape features a gently upturned tip, creating a cheerful and youthful appearance. Some people think it is sexually attractive for a woman because it gives an impression of “receptiveness”.
Also known as an “aquiline nose”, the Roman nose is supposedly a sign of nobility.
The button nose has a soft and cute appearance, characterised by its petite and rounded shape. Many people often regard it as endearing and youthful.
The snub nose features a short and slightly upturned tip which supposedly conveys playfulness and openness.
The Greek nose is similar to a straight nose, but it has a more defined tip. It is often associated with beauty and classical beauty standards. It represents an appreciation for art and culture.
If you noticed, these nose types above are primarily displayed by medical practices that cater to a Western clientele.
Secondly, look at the photos the different websites use as representative of each type of nose. Take for example, the sample photo of a Roman or Greek nose from each website. Notice the different samples used. The appearance of human noses is a continuous variable and difficult to put noses into neat categories.
If you’re from Southeast Asia, it would make even less sense to try to categorise your nose into any of these groups since these are characteristics for a different ethnic group.
East Asian Nose
The term “East Asian nose” refers to the stereotypical nose shape found among individuals of East Asian heritage, including those from regions like China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. The stereotype is:
- Low and Flat Nose Bridge: If you look at a Caucasian person from the side, you cannot see the eyelashes of the opposite eye because the high nose bridge blocks the view. When the nose bridge is flat, they are visible.
- Broad and Rounded Nasal Tip: East Asian noses have a rounded or bulbous tip that lacks definition or projection.
- Wider Nostrils: The nostrils of East Asian noses appear broader and flared. It is not always wide but appears so because of an optical illusion since the axis of the nostrils is more horizontal
- Thicker Skin: East Asian individuals often have thicker skin on their noses, which can contribute to a less defined nasal tip
The photo below shows a common type of nasal tip found in South East Asia. The arrow indicates the columella. Typically, it is short and retracted. It is not visible in the side view.
To make this tip “sharper”, a graft needs to be inserted to support the columella instead of just adding cartilage to the top of the tip because this would alter the proportions of the tip and it will look unnatural.
In reality, there is a wide variation of nasal tips and not everyone has a tip like that.
Is it possible to change your nose shape?
Yes, you can, with rhinoplasty but have realistic expectations. Like any cosmetic surgery, rhinoplasty can work wonders, but it’s not magic.
It is also important to note that rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure, and as such, it carries some risks and requires a recovery period. Swelling and bruising are common after surgery, these typically subside within a few weeks. The final result should be assessed after six months because the nose keeps changing during this time.
Surgical rhinoplasty, in good hands, is the safest option. Non-surgical options like injecting fillers only produce a temporary change and may even make you blind.
The Straits Times recently published a case where a woman lost vision after a filler treatment, that occurred in Singapore.
Call us for a consultation. We’re here to provide you with the information you need to make a choice that’s right for you.