Can Removing Skin Make My Nostrils Even?

Q: I have two differently sized nostrils. My left nostril is smaller than my right. It looks like just removing some skin will fix the problem. How easy is this to do? I have attached a picture of my nose from below for you so you can see the problem.

A: There are numerous causes of one nostril being different than the other one. Since the nostril is geometrically a triangle, changes in the any of three legs (columella, alar rim, nostril sill) can cause a change in nostril size and shape. The most common cause of nostril asymmetry is an alteration of the vertical leg. That is the piece of skin between the nostrils known as the columella. It is supported from behind by the end of the septal cartilage, known as the caudal septum. This is frequently deviated or deflected to the side into the nostril space. When this occurs, the oval-shape of the nostril will become deformed making it look smaller. This is exactly what your picture shows…a classic deviated caudal end of the septum.

Whether more of the septum is off of the midline as it goes deep into your nose is unknown. You would probably know that because such a deviation is likely to cause breathing problems of which you would be aware. Regardless, correction of this problem is through a septoplasty procedure. The septum is moved back to the midline behind the columella. This anatomic correction returns the nostril size and shape back to better symmetry with the opposite nostril.

Septoplasty is commonly performed as part of many cosmetic rhinoplasty surgeries.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana