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Donor Rib Cartilage vs Your Own Rib Cartilage

Aug 9, 2022

Some patients may require cartilage grafting when having cosmetic or reconstructive rhinoplasty.  This can be for patients who are having revision/secondary surgery or for those undergoing ethnic rhinoplasty.

The sources of cartilage include the nasal septum, ear cartilage or rib cartilage.  It really depends on what the cartilage graft is being used for.

If a strong, stiff graft is required, then rib cartilage is the best option.  The ribs are made out of bone and cartilage.  The end of the rib closest to the middle of the chest near the breast bone is made out of cartilage.  For rhinoplasty only a small segment of cartilage is needed, approximately 2-3cm.

Patients can decide if they want to have their own cartilage used or to use donor cartilage.  There are pros and cons to each option.  Using your own cartilage means an extra scar on the chest.  Also the place where the cartilage has been removed will be sore for  a few days to weeks.  The advantage is that it is your own tissue and there is no added cost to buying in donor cartilage.

With donor cartilage, the operation is quicker, less painful and without the need for an extra scar because the surgeon doesn’t have to spend time removing cartilage.  The down side is that, although perfectly safe, some people would rather not use cartilage from another person.  There is also an added cost to the surgery.

It is important to have a conversation with your surgeon if rib cartilage is required as to whether you would want your own cartilage or donor cartilage.

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