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Your Guide to Nose Anatomy

There are many variables in nose surgery. So, we have put together an article to explain the nose anatomy, common nose shapes and problems, and a glossary of words that you should know. This may not only help you better explain your desires to your surgeon, but it will also help you better understand what surgery can and cannot achieve.

Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure that aims to reshape the nose.

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Rhinoplasty requires a skilled surgeon to achieve the desired result. Your ENT or plastic surgeon needs to take a lot of factors into consideration when operating, since each nose is different, and each patient wants a different look.

Anatomy of the Nose – Surface Anatomy

First, the surface anatomy which describes the visible parts of the nose without the structures that form it on the inside. The visible anatomy of the nose includes:

  • The Radix: The highest point of the nose, directly in between your eyes.
  • The Dorsum: Also called the bridge. It’s the part of the nose that runs from the radix to the tip of your nose.
  • The Columella: The straight column between your two nostrils
  • The Alae: These are the side boundaries of the nostrils. Each side is called “Ala” and the plural is “Alae”.

Coco Ruby Blog - Nose Anatomy Guide for Nose Aesthetics and Beauty Surface Nose Anatomy

Anatomy of the Nose – Below the surface

Underneath the surface anatomy (as explained above), there’s bone and cartilage. This is what gives the nose its shape. We can divide the nose vertically into 3 parts. The upper third is formed by the nasal bones. While the middle third by the upper lateral cartilages. And, the lower third from the alar cartilages:

  • Nasal bones: These bones are not very hard, and are usually shaved during rhinoplasty to form the desired look. The nasal bones give the bridge of the nose its shape and projection.
  • Upper lateral cartilages: Cartilage is a type of firm tissue that’s much softer than bone. It starts right below your nasal bone, in the middle third of your nose. You can try to feel it yourself (it’s the soft compressible part).
  • Alar cartilages: These are very important as they give your nose tip its appearance and are usually manipulated during rhinoplasty. These cartilages underlie the tip of the nose, the columella, and the alae.
  • Nasal septum: This is the wall that runs in the middle and separates the right and left nasal cavities from each other. You’ve probably heard of the term “deviated septum”, which refers to a problem in the nasal septum.

Coco Ruby Blog - Nose Anatomy Guide for Nose Aesthetics and Beauty Bone and Cartilage Nose Anatomy

Why People Consider Getting a Nose Surgery (Rhinoplasty)?

Reasons for Rhinoplasty can be cosmetic and/or medical.

What are the different types of rhinoplasty?

open vs closed rhinoplasty

There’s the open rhinoplasty and there’s the closed rhinoplasty. These are two different techniques that surgeons can utilise when performing a nose job (rhinoplasty). Our surgeons have experience using both these techniques, and they might combine the two to achieve the look you desire. Each technique has its uses in specific situations.

Surgeons will choose the open technique when the problem is in either the tip or alae. The surgeon will make a small incision in the skin of the columella (between your nostrils). Then they will remove the excess tissue and reshare what remains to achieve a more desirable shape, then they will close the incision. Usually, no visible scarring is left after healing.

A surgeon will choose the closed technique when addressing the dorsum (bridge) of the nose. A small incision is made inside the nose to perform the surgery, and the skin is left untouched.

What can I expect after a nose job (rhinoplasty)?

Our surgeon Dr Stephen Kleid, MB BS FRACS Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon is one of the most experienced ENT surgeons in Australia who offers rhinoplasty.

They will discuss your concerns with you and try to learn what it is that you don’t like about your nose. Then they will explain how they may help you achieve the desired result.

After surgery, you can expect some discomfort, swelling, pain, congestion, and bleeding for the first week. However, this will get better as the days pass, and should not last more than a week or two. You should know that full recovery might take a long time, and your nose will not settle into its final shape until at least a few months have passed.

It’s important that you have realistic expectations about what the surgery may achieve.

Before and After Photos of Nose Surgery (Rhinoplasty)

Below are a few before and after photos of real patients with real results. If you would like to see more before and after photos you can visit – 90 real patient nose job Before and After Photos – Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty. Our surgeons are highly experienced.

Dr Stephen Kleid Rhinoplasty before and after
Dr Stephen Kleid Rhinoplasty before and after

Disclaimer: The outcomes shown are only relevant for these patients and do not necessarily reflect the results other patients may experience, as results may vary due to many factors including the individual’s genetics, diet and exercise.

Glossary – Some important rhinoplasty and nose surgery words


Bony vault: The bony part of your nose, also includes the nasal bones and bony septum).

Cartilage: A type of tissue that is softer than bone and is responsible for maintaining the nose structure.

Cartilage graft: Cartilage tissue that is taken from another part of your body. For Example, your ear, which is then grafted into the nose to treat certain conditions.

Columella: The narrow strip of tissue that separates the nostrils, also called the columella.

Columellar Show: The height of the columella showing from the sides.

Closed rhinoplasty: A type of surgical incision in which there are no external skin incisions.

Deviated septum: The cartilage that separates the nostrils is misaligned which can cause partial nasal airway obstruction.

Dorsum: The nasal bridge.

Edema: Tissue swelling.

General anaesthesia: Either injectable drugs or gases given to ensure you are asleep during surgery and feel no pain.


Hematoma: Blood collection beneath the wound.

Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax, however, you won’t be completely asleep.

Local anaesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of surgery to numb it so that you won’t feel any pain.

Mucosal lining: The thin layer of tissue that covers the surface of the septum as well as the inside of the nose.

Nasolabial angle: The angle between your columella and your upper lip.

Nasofrontal angle: The angle between your radix and your forehead.

Necrosis: Tissue death.

Nasal septum: A wall of bone and cartilage located in the middle of your nose to separate the two nasal cavities.

Osteotomy: Removal of part of the nasal bone.

Open rhinoplasty: A surgical technique where a skin incision is necessary.

Open Roof Deformity: Formation of a gap between the nasal bones.

Projection: How much your nose protrudes in front of your face.

Radix: The highest part of your nose, almost directly between your eyes.

Rhinoplasty: Surgery to reshape the nose.

Septoplasty: Surgery to address and straighten the septum.

Seroma: Fluid collection beneath the wound.

Turbinates: Large bony bumps in your nasal cavity coated by a mucosal lining that serve different physiological functions. Turbinate overgrowth can also lead to breathing difficulty.

Further Reading

If you would like to learn more about Nose Anatomy or Rhinoplasty you can read more by clicking any of the links below;

Medical Sources:

Unsure about the Plastic Surgery and procedure suitable for you?

Our Specialist Plastic Surgeons located in Melbourne will be able to assess your desired goals and suggest the most suitable options for your nose surgery.

Please contact a Patient Care Team at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery to book your consultation.

Phone (03) 8849 1400 or Email us at

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843

Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266

Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799

Dr Stephen Kleid

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

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964

Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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