Know your nose – Nose anatomy and nose surgery

The nose serves a dual role as an essential component of the respiratory system and a prominent facial feature. Its function goes beyond just breathing, as it also contributes to our overall facial aesthetics.

Understanding the anatomy of your nose is crucial, not only if you are considering altering its appearance but also to gain a deeper knowledge of its structure and function.

The nose consists of two main parts, each playing a vital role in both the aesthetic and physiological aspects. Nasal surgery can target either or both parts, depending on the specific purpose of the procedure. These parts are the external nose and the internal nose, and let’s explore their anatomy in more detail:

  1. External Nose: This is the visible part of the nose and includes the bridge, nostrils, and tip. The shape, size, and contours of the external nose greatly contribute to our facial appearance.
  2. Internal Nose: The internal structures of the nose are responsible for functions such as breathing and smell. It consists of the nasal passages, nasal septum (the partition between the nostrils), turbinates (bony structures that help humidify and filter the air), and various sinuses.

By understanding the anatomy of both the external and internal nose, you can gain a better appreciation of the complexity and interconnectedness of this important facial feature. This knowledge can further inform your decision-making process when considering nasal surgery and enhance your overall understanding of your nose’s form and function.


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Anatomy of the External Nose

The different parts of the external nose are as follows 


The radix is located at the nasal root and serves as the starting point of the nose. It is positioned between the eyebrows on the face. It is the bony area that contributes to the contour and prominence of the nose, commonly known as the “bump.”

The radix holds particular significance in ethnic rhinoplasty or nose augmentation procedures. These interventions aim to address a flatter or less defined radix in certain ethnicities. To enhance the appearance of the radix, surgeons may use a cartilage graft. This graft helps to augment the area and create a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing nasal profile.

By understanding the role of the radix in nasal aesthetics, patients and surgeons can work together to achieve the desired outcome in procedures targeting the radix. Whether it is to address ethnic-specific features or improve the overall harmony of the nose, the augmentation of the radix can contribute to enhancing the facial appearance and achieving the desired nasal contour.

Nasal bridge or dorsum

The nasal bridge, also known as the dorsum, is the central portion of the nose located between the radix and the nasal tip. As the largest part of the external nose, any imperfections or abnormalities in the nasal bridge can significantly impact the overall facial appearance.

Common issues related to the nasal bridge include;

  • A deviated nasal septum, which can result in a crooked or misaligned appearance of the bridge.
  • The presence of a bump or hump on the bridge, which often prompts individuals to consider undergoing rhinoplasty.

Addressing these concerns through rhinoplasty can help achieve a more harmonious and balanced nasal profile. The procedure may involve techniques such as septoplasty to correct a deviated septum and osteotomies to reshape and smoothen the nasal bridge.

Nasal Tip

The nasal tip is a prominent and noticeable part of the nose that protrudes outward. A desirable nasal tip is often petite, round, and slightly upturned. However, there is a wide range of natural nasal tip shapes, and some people may seek nasal surgery to address specific concerns.

Nasal tip surgery, known as tip rhinoplasty, is a procedure that can be performed to address Nasal Tip concerns. The procedure involves reshaping the nasal cartilage and sometimes removing excess tissue to refine and contour the nasal tip. This surgical intervention can help individuals achieve a more balanced and proportionate nasal tip, enhancing overall facial harmony and aesthetic appeal.


The columella is the vertical strip of tissue that separates the nostrils at the base of the nose. It is an important and visible part of the nose that contributes to its overall appearance.

The columella can vary in shape and size among individuals. In some cases, it may appear too prominent or droopy, affecting the aesthetics of the nose. Issues with the columella can also arise from previous trauma, congenital conditions, or age-related changes.

Surgical procedures can be performed to address concerns related to the columella. Depending on the specific issue, techniques such as cartilage grafting, suturing, or repositioning of the tissue may be employed.

Columellar surgery can help improve the symmetry, proportion, and overall balance of the nose. It is often performed in conjunction with other rhinoplasty procedures to achieve optimal results.

Anatomy of the Internal Nose

Understanding the anatomy of the internal nose is essential when considering nose surgery. While the internal nose primarily contributes to the functionality of the nose, it is interconnected with the external features. Any deformities or issues in the internal nose can impact the external appearance as well.

The internal nose consists of various structures that play crucial roles in breathing and overall nasal function. These include the nasal septum, turbinate’s, nasal valves, and sinuses. Problems such as a deviated septum, enlarged turbinate’s, or collapsed nasal valves can affect airflow and breathing.

When contemplating nose surgery, it is vital to have a comprehensive understanding of both the internal and external aspects of the nose. This knowledge helps in assessing the potential risks and complications associated with the procedure. By being well-informed, individuals can make educated decisions about undergoing nose surgery and have realistic expectations about the outcomes.

By understanding the anatomy of the nose and considering both the functional and aesthetic aspects, individuals can make informed decisions about nose surgery and work towards achieving their desired outcomes.

Nasal Septum

The nasal septum is the cartilage wall between the two nostrils that is responsible for keeping both the nasal cavities open and unobstructed. A direct injury to the nose often injures the nasal septum and either fracture the nasal septal cartilage or deviates it. The deviated nasal septum, also known as DNS, is a cosmetic and physical deformity. The nasal septum is what gives the nasal bridge its shape so any deviation of the nasal septum equates to the deviation of the bridge. Moreover, the deviation often obstructs the nasal cavity on the side of the obstruction, making it difficult for you to breathe.

In such cases, nose surgery is definitely helpful. Depending on the extent of the injury, the surgery of choice might be either a septoplasty or rhinoplasty. In extreme cases, a Septo-rhinoplasty may be performed. 

Nasal Wings or Alars

The sides of the nose which exaggerate the size of the nostrils when you flare them are known as nasal wings or alar. This part of the nose is crucial for the overall aesthetics of the external nose.

The nasal wings are not only important for the appearance of the nostrils but also for the appearance of the nasal tip. The wings are the extension of the nasal tip on the sides and they are responsible for supporting the nasal tip. Weak nasal alar cartilage means a lack of support for the tip, which is why such noses often appear wide and flat at the tip.

Nasal Bones

The nasal bones for the framework for both internal and external nose shape. They are important for the shape and projection of the nose, but unlike other bones in the body, the nasal bones are not as hard. They are easy to manipulate and shave during a rhinoplasty procedure when it is being performed for enhanced nasal projection or improved appearance of the nose. 

Upper Nasal Cartilages

The upper nasal cartilages are the cartilages apart from the alar cartilages and the septal cartilage, that is found over the nasal bones in the upper and lateral parts of the nose. This cartilage is important for determining the appearance of the nasal root as weak cartilage in that region gives the nasal root a pinched appearance. Moreover, it cannot support the nasal dorsum which can be devastating for the aesthetics of the rest of the nose. 

When considering Nose Surgery

Understanding the intricate anatomy of the nose is vital for anyone considering nose surgery. The nose is a complex structure that combines both aesthetic and functional aspects, and any alterations to its appearance should be approached with care and thorough knowledge.

The external nose consists of various components, including the radix, nasal bridge, and nasal tip, which contribute to the overall shape and appearance of the nose. Each of these features can have specific concerns or imperfections that individuals may seek to address through nose surgery.

Additionally, the internal nose plays a crucial role in nasal function, affecting breathing and airflow. Structures such as the nasal septum, turbinates, nasal valves, and sinuses all contribute to proper respiratory function. Understanding the internal anatomy is important to address functional issues that may impact daily life, such as breathing difficulties or chronic sinus problems.

When considering nose surgery, it is essential to consult with a qualified and experienced surgeon who specializes in nasal procedures. They can assess individual concerns, perform a comprehensive evaluation of the nose’s anatomy, and provide tailored recommendations for the most suitable treatment options.

It is important for individuals to have realistic expectations and understand the potential risks and complications associated with nose surgery. A well-informed decision can be made by considering both the functional and aesthetic aspects of the nose, taking into account personal goals and desired outcomes.

By working closely with a skilled surgeon and having a comprehensive understanding of nose anatomy, individuals can make informed choices that lead to successful nose surgery outcomes. Whether the goal is to enhance appearance, improve functionality, or address specific nasal issues, a thorough understanding of nose anatomy is a crucial foundation for a positive surgical experience.

Why Choose Dr Kleid ?

Dr Stephen Kleid,
Cosmetic Rhinoplasty

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced ENT Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty and a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

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What to Bring to Your Consultation

  • We encourage you to bring a friend or family member to accompany you, as they can provide an extra perspective and support throughout the process.
  • It is important to take thorough notes and carefully review all the documents provided to you.

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The information presented in this article is provided solely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your physician or qualified healthcare provider regarding any medical condition or concerns you may have. Do not disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice based on the information provided in this article. The author and publisher of this article do not warrant the accuracy, applicability, or completeness of the content, and any reliance on the information presented is at your own discretion and risk.