Did you know, that today’s technology has delivered various surgical techniques in rhinoplasty (nose job) that can utilise commercially available materials derived from cadavers (deceased human beings)?! These include packaged and ready-to-use cartilage, fascia, and skin. There is a complicated and thoroughly rigid preparation and sterilisation process that these tissue parts have to go through, in order to make them a hybrid material that is both “foreign” and and yet “human”, and therefore be readily accepted by our body as if it WAS from our body. Although cadaveric substitutes (allografts) are readily available (and expensive) in most developed countries around the world, their use in Australia is still not common. All new products have to go through vigorous testing by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration), and this in itself is an involved and complicated process, and will only occur if wide use was envisaged. In the meantime, special application for their use is required if clinically indicated for a particular case.
Grafts (pieces of tissue that are transplanted surgically) are frequently used in rhinoplasties, in order to provide structural support to the nose, to fine-tune the contours of the nose, as well as to provide cushioning in areas where there is thin skin. In secondary rhinoplasties (re-operations), grafts are almost inevitably required, because of distortion and/or lack of existing tissue as a result of previous surgery. The best source of graft material in rhinoplasty remains autologous (own tissue), including the septum, ear, and rib as a source of cartilage. Our own tissue ensures greatest survivability of the graft and lowers the risks of infection inherent to any foreign material. Scarring and morbidity of the donor site where the graft comes from certainly has to be kept in mind. In general however, most donor sites where cartilage, fascia, or skin is taken from for use in rhinoplasty are well hidden and their scarring becomes inconspicuous over time. It’s food for thought… how would you feel about having human cadaveric material in your body?!