The Articulated Alar Rim Graft: Reengineering the Conventional Alar Rim Graft for Improved Contour and Support

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Surgical refinement of the wide nasal tip is challenging. Achieving an attractive, slender, and functional tip complex without destabilizing the lower nasal sidewall or deforming the contracture-prone alar rim is a formidable task. Excisional refinement techniques that rely upon incremental weakening of wide lower lateral cartilages (LLC) often destabilize the tip complex and distort tip contour. Initial destabilization of the LLC is usually further exacerbated by “shrink-wrap” contracture, which often leads to progressive cephalic retraction of the alar margin. The result is a misshapen tip complex accentuated by a conspicuous and highly objectionable nostril deformity that is often very difficult to treat. The “articulated” alar rim graft (AARG) is a modification of the conventional rim graft that improves treatment of secondary alar rim deformities, including postsurgical alar retraction (PSAR). Unlike the conventional alar rim graft, the AARG is sutured to the underlying tip complex to provide direct stationary support to the alar margin, thereby enhancing graft efficacy. When used in conjunction with a well-designed septal extension graft (SEG) to stabilize the central tip complex, lateral crural tensioning (LCT) to tighten the lower nasal sidewalls and minimize soft-tissue laxity, and lysis of scar adhesions to unfurl the retracted and scarred nasal lining, the AARG can eliminate PSAR in a majority of patients. The AARG is also highly effective for prophylaxis against alar retraction and in the treatment of most other contour abnormalities involving the alar margin. Moreover, the AARG requires comparatively little graft material, and complications are rare. We present a retrospective series of 47 consecutive patients treated with the triad of AARG, SEG, and LCT for prophylaxis and/or treatment of alar rim deformities. Outcomes were favorable in nearly all patients, and no complications were observed. We conclude the AARG is a simple and effective method for avoiding and correcting most alar rim deformities.

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