Internal Nasal Valve Collapse
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Internal nasal valve compromise is a frequently overlooked source of breathing problems, most commonly found in patients who have either broken their noses or who have undergone previous surgery. People suffering from a compromised internal nasal valve are prone to a range of symptoms, such as snoring, a tendency to breathe through the mouth, and difficulty breathing while physically active. More severe cases of nasal valve collapse can also cause constant breathing problems or even affect the physical appearance of the nose. Although some nasal valve collapse is normal during strenuous activity, there should not be any obstruction during normal relaxed breathing.
The internal nasal valve is defined as the opening between the front end of the upper lateral cartilage (or nasal sidewall cartilage) and the nasal septum, around the middle third of the nose. The internal nasal valve area is the narrowest portion of the nasal passage and accounts for most of the inspiratory resistance to airflow. When the tissue in this narrow portion of the nose is weakened, it can result in the valve collapsing while breathing. Normally, the internal valve angle is ten to fifteen degrees in a healthy nose. However, the compromise of any of the tissue in the nasal valve can alter that angle and cause obstruction of breathing. One of the most common reasons for compromised tissue resilience is recent nose surgery, especially reduction rhinoplasty. Other common causes include breaking the nose, temporary factors such as allergies or pregnancy, or natural factors such as genetics or aging.
Because there are so many possible factors that can contribute to nasal valve compromise, there are several possible ways to approach the problem. It is first necessary to identify what factors are involved, and whether or not those factors are naturally reversible.
- Mild compromise due to temporary factors such as allergies can be resolved with relatively simple measures. These can range from the light breathing strips taped outside the nose, commonly seen on athletes, to medical treatments for allergy or inflammation such as nasal decongestants, topical nasal steroids, or antihistamines.
However, for more permanent causes of nasal valve collapse, the most appropriate solution is a surgery to restore structural support to the weakened tissue.
- The most common method of surgery to correct nasal valve collapse involves the use of a spreader graft to widen the angle at the nasal valve area, which has minimal effect on the thickness of the nose itself. This is most effective when the nasal passage is simply too narrow, and not actually damaged or misshapen from trauma and also tends to have a positive aesthetic effect on overly narrow noses.
- In cases where the cause for the valve collapse is structural in nature, it may be necessary to utilize a specialized structural graft to reinforce the thickness and strength of the nasal passage, so the lateral walls of the nasal passage are less prone to bending inward. Structural grafts may vary greatly in technique and purpose, depending on the patient’s specific needs.
At Profiles Beverly Hills, Drs. Litner and Solieman will direct your extensive consultation and create a plan that is perfectly tailored to your needs. Our Profiles surgeons are authors and teachers of the latest techniques available that are proven for reliability and longevity, so you can be sure that your satisfaction with your healthy new nose will last for a lifetime.