Objectives: To determine the effect of deep-plane rhytidectomy on the cross-sectional area of the nasal cavity in the vicinity of the nasal valves and to compare this quantitative measure with patients' subjective assessment of their postoperative nasal airway. Design: An inception cohort of 17 patients undergoing rhytidectomy (either cheek-lift or face-lift) for facial rejuvenation was evaluated with acoustic rhinometry. Initial measurements were taken approximately 1 week prior to surgery, followed by postoperative measurements at 1 week and again at 1 month (a total of 18 measurements per patient). Patients undergoing simultaneous nasal procedures were excluded. Control subjects consisted of patients undergoing facial plastic procedures other than rhytidectomy or septorhinoplasty (n=3). The main outcome measure was cross-sectional area of both the internal and external valve regions as determined by acoustic rhinometry. The setting was an ambulatory surgery center at a large academic institution. Results: Seventy percent of patients (12 of 17) reported subjective improvement of their nasal airway patency following rhytidectomy, whereas no control subjects (0%) reported any such change. Eighty-eight percent of patients (15 of 17) had a substantial increase in the dimension of their internal nasal valve area as measured with acoustic rhinometry at 1 week, with 70% of patients demonstrating increase at 1 month. Fifty-three percent of patients (9 of 17) demonstrated an increase in their external valve area at 1 week, and 59% had a persistent increase as measured at 1 month. No control subjects demonstrated any significant nasal valve area increases at either time. There was no correlation between age or body mass index and the measurement outcomes among participants. Conclusions: While there is a statistically significant increase in both the internal and external nasal valve cross-sectional areas at 1 month after rhytidectomy, the permanency of this effect is unknown. In support of these findings, a sizable proportion of patients undergoing rhytidectomy subjectively report an increase in their ability to breathe through their noses, lending credence to a postrhytidectomy melonasal effect.
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