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Geometry of the Nose: Regions of the Nose

For most people, the nose is the most noticeable and prominent feature of the face. They come in many shapes and sizes, from the small, button nose of a young child, to the varied shapes and sizes seen in both Caucasian and Ethnic populations. Although most observers see the nose as a whole, plastic surgeons must view the entire shape and geometry of the nose in order ascertain how best to keep it in proper proportion to the rest of the face. Some of the more prominent regions of the nose are easy to notice in the mirror yet involve terms with which the layperson may not be familiar.

ethnic rhinoplasty

At the top of the nose, the glabella (g) is a flat triangular area that lies between the brow ridges. The glabella is the typical starting point for many measurements of the nose.

Also known as the “nasal point”, the nasion (n) is a small depression near the top of the nose that lies just below the glabella. The nasion marks the meeting point between the frontal bone and the two nasal bones in the skull.

The sellion (s) is a depression below the nasion. Due to its location, it is often referred to as the “median” as it lies almost directly between the eyes.

The root of the nose starts at the region known as the maxillofrontale (mf). The bones and cartilage that make up the nose start their protrusion from the rest of the face here. Dr. Slupchynskyj measures the “upper width of the nose” at this area.

The alare (al) make up the outer edges of the “wings” of the outer nose. The alar cartilages form most of the width and shape of the nose.

rhinoplasty nasal landmarks

The pronasale (prn) is the point where the nose protrudes the furthest from the face. In most instances, the pronasale is found at the end tip of the nose.

The strip of skin and cartilage that stretches from the pronasale to the upper lip is called the columella. The columella also forms the base of the septum, which separates the nostrils. The top points of the columella are typically found at the nostril tips.

The base of the columella, also called the subnasale (sn), is where the center of the nose meets the upper lip. In some noses, where the pronasale extends below the columella, the subnasale can be difficult to see from a frontal view.

Just as the subnasale marks the point where the columella meets the upper lip, the subalare (sbal) points are where the bases of the nostrils meet the face. Surgeons use these points to determine the size and angle of the nostril openings.

The crease between the outer alare and the cheek form an alar curvature point (ac) on either side of the face. The distance between the alar curvature points forms the widest part of the nose.

The nostril axis is the line between the highest and lowest points of the nostril. Surgeons measure the angle formed by the two nostril axes to define the shape of the nostrils and how they relate to the columella.

With all the above noted locations in mind, Dr. Slupchynskyj will begin measuring the lengths and angles between all these points. In our next discussion, we will look at how Dr. Slupchynskyj obtains these measurements and what they mean for the proportions of the nose.

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