Trends in Nasal Subunit Reconstruction by Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons

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To determine if facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons still adhere to the classic nasal subunit principle as described by Burget and Menick. Observational survey. A Weill Cornell Medicine institutional review board approved electronic survey that was sent via e-mail to active members of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). The survey consisted of 32 multiple-choice questions pertaining to the operative management of small (22-30%), medium (50-58%), and large (75-81%) defects of each subunit of the nose, as well as demographic, provider, and practice characteristics. There were 111 responses to the survey (10.1% response rate). Ninety-eight percent of respondents reported familiarity with the subunit principle, and 59.6% considered the subunit principle in greater than 90% of cases. Almost three-quarters (70.4%) of respondents felt the subunit principle should be applied but could be modified based on the particular nasal defect, whereas 28.7% felt it was only sometimes helpful and was not mandatory for successful nasal reconstruction. Large defects of the tip and ala are generally treated by excision of the remaining subunit (79.4 and 80.6%, respectively). Fewer surgeons would excise the remaining subunit for large defects of the dorsum (39.8%), sidewall (38.8%), and soft tissue facet (18.4%). Simple repair without additional excision was the treatment of choice for small defects of the tip (58.2%), ala (59.2%), sidewall (65%), dorsum (68%), and soft tissue facet (71.8%). However, in many small- (up to 32%) and medium- (up to 51%) sized defects of the tip, ala, sidewall, and dorsum, respondents reported partial subunit excision. The majority of AAFPRS members abide to the classical subunit principle by completely excising the remaining subunit for large defects of the tip and ala. Many surgeons modify the subunit principle in small and medium defects.

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