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Geometry of the Nose Part II: Artistic Measurements and Properties

In Part I of our discussion on nasal geometry, we examined the numerous landmarks and measuring specific important points around the nose. Dr. Slupchynskyj uses these points as the basis for many of the measurements he takes of the nose before determining the absolute best course for any potential surgical procedure such as rhinoplasty and ethnic rhinoplasty. Dr. Slupchynskyj will compare the patient’s measurements (which includes measurements found in neoclassical art) to those of “average” or “attractive” noses to further determine which areas of that nose require more shaping and proportionality to the rest of the patient’s features.

Length and Width Measurements

A study published in the Journal of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery measured the faces of 34 “above-average” women. The length and width measurements include, but are not limited to:

  • The height of the nose (from the nasion (n) to the subnasale (sn))
  • The length of the nasal bridge (from the nasion (n) to the pronasale (prn))
  • The width of the nose (distance between the alare (al))
  • The length of the ala (from the alare (al) to the pronasale (prn))
  • The width of the nasal root (distance between the maxillofrontale (mf))
  • The width of the columella (distance between the subnasale (sn))
  • The length of nasal tip protrusion (from the subnasale (sn) to the pronasale (prn))
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Inclinations and Angles Researchers in the study measured angles and inclinations of the nose, including:

  • The inclination of the nasal bridge (BI) from the nasion to the nasal tip.
  • The inclination of the columella (CI) from the upper lip to the pronasale.
  • The angle where the forehead and nasal root meet (ª) (known as the nasofrontal angle)
  • The angle where the upper lip and the base of the columella meet ( β) (known as the nasolabial angle)
  • The nasal tip angle (y)

Measurement Canons

The researchers employed several measurements found in neoclassical art. Artists used these classical measurements to determine how to translate a three-dimensional face onto a two-dimensional surface. These standards of beauty consisted of ratios between the height of the nose and several other measurements, including:

  • The distance between the hairline and chin.
  • The height of the ears.
  • The distance between the pupils.
  • The width of the nose.
  • The width of the mouth.

The study also examined the relations between the inclinations of the ear and the nose.

Compiling the Data

After taking so many measurements and calculating the ratios, the scientists studied the data to determine what nasal proportions these “above-average” women shared. While some disparities existed among the various data points, most of them stayed within a small deviation of the average. For instance, the average ratio of nose width to mouth width in the study participants was 61.5 percent, with a standard deviation of 5.8.

Asymmetry and Disfigurement

As an observer would expect, the “above-average” women had fewer instances of asymmetrical features or nasal deformities than those found in the thirty women in the control group. For instance, only four (11.8 percent) of the “above-average” women showed any asymmetry in their nostril floor width (from the subalare to the subnasale), with an average asymmetry of only one millimeter, compared to 15.7 percent of the control group showing the same asymmetry, with an average of 1.6 millimeters.

The “above-average” women also showed a lower incidence of nasal disfigurement, such as deviations of the nasal bridge or columella. The control group also had more serious deviations (in terms of extent) than the “above-average” group.

In the next part of the series, we will examine regions of the external nose.

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