Rebuilding Noses

FRESNO, Calif.

Pat Villafranca never liked her nose growing up.

"I never really had good airways, and I always had a hump right between the eyes," Pat told Ivanhoe.

In her twenties, she went to a doctor to have that hump fixed, but the doctor left Pat with a face she didn't recognize.

"The tip of my nose is gone," Pat said. "There's nothing supporting that skin, and now my nose droops."

Over the years, several doctors told her they couldn't fix her droopy nose. Then, she met Dr. Russell Kridel. "Patients who had previous surgery on their nose or who had significant trauma to their nose shouldn't give up hope," Russell Kridel, M.D. a facial plastic surgeon at the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center in Houston, said.

Dr. Kridel gives patients reason to get excited by suggesting to use donor rib cartilage. It's irradiated to first virtually eliminate rejection risk and second, to keep the cartilage from warping.

"If we take rib cartilage, it's straight, and we can get a very nice contour on the bridge of the nose," Dr. Kridel said.

Kridel's study shows that using donor cartilage instead of a patient's own cartilage reduces cost, pain, surgery time and recovery.

"Since we wrote this paper, there's been a huge demand for it. The tissue banks have been unable to keep up with the demand because it's so easy to use," Dr. Kridel said.

As a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent, Pat does on camera interviews for big cases.

"I probably would have never volunteered for this job if I felt that I didn't like the way I looked." Pat said. "I feel like I have my old nose back."

One of the biggest benefits in using the donor cartilage is that is has a long shelf life, five years from when it's harvested from the donor. Dr. Kridel says there is also ongoing research to explore the use of artificial cartilage to use in plastic surgery procedures like this.

Cindy Romeo
Patient Coordinator for Dr. Kridel
(800) 621-7531

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