An often confused and overlooked component of the nasal airway is the external nasal valve. The external nasal valve refers to the mobile alar wall (the sidewalls of your nostrils). The nasal valve is located about 1cm from the nostrils, between the septum and the cartilage of the outer sidewall of the nose. Because this area is naturally the smallest cross-sectional diameter of the nose, any alterations or irregularities to the nasal valve can cause a drastic change in airflow.
Some people are born with external nasal valve irregularities that impede airflow. For others whose cartilage was otherwise normal, obstruction secondary to external valve compromise is most commonly due to:
There are several treatment options for an external nasal valve collapse or compromise. A common, non-invasive treatment option is the use of external nasal strips, which pull open the valve. These are commonly worn by professional athletes to improve airflow during athletic competition. However, these are only a temporary solution. Moreover, because they are highly visible and can be considered unsightly, many of our patients do not consider the long term use of nasal strips to be a viable solution.
A permanent solution to external nasal valve collapse is a surgical procedure. Each patient and each case will vary, as the structures of the nasal passageways are different for every patient; therefore, the surgical techniques involved with each patient’s solution can vary as well. In many cases, the surgery required is minimally invasive and can be performed as an outpatient procedure, with a minimum of downtime. However, in cases where the external nasal valve collapse is accompanied by further nasal structural weaknesses, a more extensive rhinoplasty may be necessary. This may be more common in cases of poor previous surgical outcomes and a revision rhinoplasty may be required.
Drs. Solieman and Litner will have a thorough discussion with you during your consultation about your specific condition and their proposed treatment plan that is best suited for your nose to restore your nasal function to the highest possible level.
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