Varied Definitions of Nasolabial Angle: Searching for Consensus Among Rhinoplasty Surgeons and an Algorithm for Selecting the Ideal Method

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Abstract

Background:

The nasolabial angle (NLA) is an important aesthetic metric for nasal assessment and correction. Although the literature offers many definitions, none has garnered universal acceptance.

Methods:

To gauge the consensus level among practitioners, surveys were administered to a convenience sample of rhinoplasty surgeons soliciting practice characteristics, self-assessment of rhinoplasty experience and expertise, and preferred NLA definition. Choices of NLA definition included the angle between: (A) columella and line intersecting subnasale and labrale superius; (B) columella and line tangent to philtrum; (C) nostril long axis and Frankfort perpendicular; and (D) nostril long axis and vertical facial plane.

Results:

Of the 82 total respondents, mean age was 50 years (range, 30–80years), and mean professional experience was 17 years (range, 0–67 years). Nineteen described themselves as novice rhinoplasty surgeons, 27 as intermediates, and 36 as experts. Mean number of lifetime rhinoplasties performed was 966 (range, 0–10,000). Twenty respondents (24%) agreed with definition A, 27 (33%) with B, 16 (20%) with C, and 13 (16%) with D. Six chose “other,” offering their own explanations of NLA. Self-identified novices were more likely to prefer definition D than were experts (P = 0.009).

Conclusions:

No majority consensus was reached regarding the definition of NLA. Each method has its benefits and drawbacks, and establishing a single one may be unnecessary and even counterproductive in some cases. Having options available means that surgeons can tailor to each encounter, as long as they adopt a systematic methodology. We submit an algorithm to facilitate this effort.

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