Objectives To present the aesthetic and functional outcomes of nasal alar reconstruction in Asian patients and to propose a working surgical algorithm.
Methods Seventeen patients underwent nasal alar reconstruction at a university-based facial plastic surgery practice from March 1, 1998, through February 28, 2010. The male-female ratio was 10:7, with a median age of 59 years (range, 34-78 years), and the mean follow-up duration was 64 months.
Results The defect was mostly caused by basal cell carcinoma resection (14 of 17 [82%]), followed by the resection of squamous cell carcinoma, trauma, and excision of a previous scar. The mean defect size was 1.71 cm (range, 1-4 cm). The full-thickness defects were noted for 8 patients, whereas 9 had partial-thickness defects. The choice of reconstruction method was primarily based on the size and depth of the surgical defect. Most of the defects 1 to 2 cm in diameter needed nasolabial flaps (10 of 17 [59%]), whereas full-thickness defects larger than 2 cm needed forehead flaps (3 of 17 [18%]) to reconstruct the external defect. Smaller defects less than 1 cm were reconstructed with composite grafts (2 of 17 [12%]), a bilobed flap (1 of 17 [6%]), or primary closure (1 of 17 [6%]). Seven of 8 full-thickness defects had the internal nasal lining reconstructed using a septal mucoperichondrial flap, and 1 case was reconstructed using a cutaneous turn-in flap. Reinforcement cartilage graft was used in 8 patients. No flap failure occurred except in 1 case, in which necrosis of the internal lining flap caused contraction of the external flap with resultant alar rim elevation. An elevation of the alar margin and alar groove blunting occurred in 3 cases. No functional problems emerged. Subjective surgical outcome on a 4-point satisfaction scale revealed that 5 patients (29%) were much satisfied, 10 patients (59%) were satisfied, 1 patient (6%) was fairly satisfied, and 1 patient (6%) was dissatisfied.
Conclusions The choice of reconstruction method of nasal alar defect in Asian patients depends primarily on the size and depth of the defect. Staged local flaps, use of cartilage reinforcement grafts, and internal lining reconstruction using septal mucoperichondrial flaps are key elements for achieving optimal aesthetic and functional results.