WARNING: Graphic Surgical Content
Until about 20 years ago, most rhinoplasty surgeons removed a lot of cartilage from the nose during rhinoplasty. The patient would usually look great for a few months, but gradually the nose would collapse with an unattractive result and significant trouble breathing.
We now know that if anything, the nose needs to be made stronger during a rhinoplasty. The way to make the nose stronger is to give it extra structural support in the form of cartilage grafts. If there is not enough cartilage left in a patient’s septum, then we often use ear cartilage to make grafts. Also, ear cartilage is softer than septal cartilage, making it more appropriate for certain kinds of grafts.
We usually harvest ear cartilage from the part called the “concha”, which is the deep area near the center of the ear. Conchal ear cartilage is harvested through a small incision made behind the ear, where it will not be visible. After removal, the shape of the ear does not change at all. Occasionally, the ear will heal slightly closer to the skull, which is why we harvest ear cartilage from the ear that is more prominent.
￼This is what the piece of ear cartilage looks like after harvest.
￼The incision for the ear cartilage harvest is behind the ear. It heals right in the crease where the ear attaches to the skull, so it ends up being completely invisible.
After the incision heals, it is completely invisible, even with one’s hair up in a ponytail.
￼The ear cartilage can be used to make a variety of grafts. This is a shield graft that was carved from ear cartilage. It will add refinement and projection to the nasal tip.
Watch a Video of a Ear Cartilage Harvest
(WARNING: Graphic Surgical Content)