Failure to control the projection, shape, and rotation of the nasal tip is a common occurrence among patients with weak lower lateral cartilages. These patients' noses are characterized by a weak midvault, a plunging tip with “Polly beak,” and drawn-up alae. The purpose of our study was to identify methods for controlling the position and shape of the nasal tip in these high-risk patients.
Twenty patients at risk of losing nasal tip projection were retrospectively identified, and measurements made from their preoperative and postoperative photographs were compared. Loss of tip projection occurred in all but one patient whose columella strut was fixed to the caudal septum. Prompted by these failures, we studied the relationship between the dorsum and tip in cadaveric specimens with and without a supratip break. From our observations, a structural extension of the septum-an anterior septal extension graft-was developed to predictably control this relationship.
The clinical application of septal extension grafts in open rhinoplasty was subsequently evaluated in 20 patients who were deemed to be at risk of losing tip projection. Postoperative photographic analysis showed nasal tip projection to be maintained or increased in all but one patient with the use of septal extension grafts. A stable caudal septum is essential to the success of the technique.