Case Reports in Surgery

Case Reports in Surgery / 2019 / Article

Case Report | Open Access

Volume 2019 |Article ID 2395619 | 3 pages |

Large Rhinophyma Treated by Surgical Excision and Electrocautery

Academic Editor: Yueh-Bih Tang
Received05 Dec 2018
Accepted20 May 2019
Published25 Jul 2019


Rhinophyma is a benign condition characterized by a large, bulbous nose with prominent pores. It is commonly associated with untreated cases of rosacea. The disease can carry a substantial psychological impact that causes patients to seek advice about how to improve their physical appearance. Many treatment options are available for rhinophyma, but there is no standard treatment protocol. Here, we describe the case of a 65-year-old man with a large rhinophyma that caused him cosmetic and psychosocial embarrassment. The condition was treated by surgical excision and bipolar electrocautery. No complications occurred after the procedures, and healing was completed 2 weeks later by secondary intention and reepithelialization. A simple surgical removal using a scalpel to shave off the abnormal tissue with electrocauterization of the bleeding points can be considered as a good treatment option for rhinophyma, as it results in an excellent cosmetic outcome and has short recovery time.

1. Introduction

Rhinophyma is a benign skin lesion characterized by a large, bulbous, and erythematous-appearing nose. It is considered to be an advanced stage of phymatous rosacea [1]. However, some people have rhinophyma without having rosacea. The diagnosis of rhinophyma is usually based on the clinical appearance of the nose and the history of rosacea. Several treatment options are available such as surgery, dermabrasion, and laser therapy. Here, we describe the case of a large rhinophyma treated successfully by surgical excision and bipolar electrocautery with an excellent cosmetic result.

2. Case Report

A 65-year-old man presented to the outpatient dermatology clinic with a large bulbous nose for the past 5 years. The physical examination showed three hypertrophied lobules covering the tip of the nose with deep pores and fine telangiectasia (Figures 1 and 2). The patient had been complaining of rosacea for years without receiving treatment.

Surgical excision was performed under local anesthesia using 2% lidocaine, which was injected into the nose. After the local anesthetic was infiltrated, the hypertrophied tissue was debulked using a number 10 scalpel. The excess tissue was removed layer by layer, with attention to preserve part of the basal appendages overlying the perichondrium to avoid the possibility of scarring. Hemostasis was achieved using bipolar electrocautery to reduce bleeding from the denuded area at a setting of 10-12 watts. Topical mupirocin ointment was applied to the wound, and the area was secured with a tie-over dressing.

The dressing was removed after 72 hours, and the wound was left exposed to heal by secondary intention. The excised tissue was sent for histopathological study, and the diagnosis of rhinophyma was confirmed. Follow-up was continued with weekly visits until healing was completed by the fourth week (Figure 3).

3. Discussion

Rhinophyma is a slow-growing and disfiguring enlargement of the nose that primarily occurs in men aged 50-70 years. Established rhinophyma is characterized by a large bulbous nose, wide pores, thick skin, and telangiectasia [2]. It is considered to be a characteristic of an advanced stage of phymatous rosacea. Phymatous rosacea can also affect the forehead (metophyma), chin (gnathophyma), ears (otophyma), and eyelids (blepharophyma) [3]. The exact cause of rhinophyma is not understood. It is thought to be multifactorial in origin with a primary etiology of unregulated superficial vasodilatation [4, 5]. Several hypotheses include potential roles for environmental factors and microorganisms such as Demodex folliculorum and Helicobacter pylori [6]. There is a misguided belief that it is related to alcohol consumption, with a nickname of the condition “whiskey nose.” There is no link between rhinophyma and alcohol [7]. Rhinophyma can be classified into three clinical varieties: glandular (nasal enlargement due to hyperplasia of the sebaceous glands), fibrous (increased density of the nasal connective tissue with variable sebaceous hyperplasia), and fibroangiomatous (nasal enlargement due to edematous connective tissue with enlarged veins) [8]. A histopathological evaluation can help to exclude disorders that mimic rhinophyma, such as squamous cell carcinoma and angiomatous tumors. Histopathological features of rhinophyma include sebaceous hyperplasia, connective tissue hyperplasia, and signs of chronic inflammation [8].

Treatment of rhinophyma can be very challenging and involve a combination of different treatment options. Medical therapies include oral isotretinoin and antibiotics, such as tetracycline, erythromycin, and topical metronidazole, which may have a positive effect in the early stages of the disease. Oral medications are not usually effective in established rhinophyma; therefore, surgery is often necessary. Surgical treatments are aimed at removing the excess tissue and restoring the natural appearance of the nose; it is considered the standard gold treatment. Surgery, dermabrasion, and debulking and sculpting the tissue using a sinus microdebrider, ablative carbon dioxide laser therapy, electrosurgery, and electrocautery were all considered as treatment options [9, 10]. However, there is no standard protocol to manage rhinophyma. In our case, we used a combined technique of simple surgical excision and bipolar electrocautery as an alternative option to treat large rhinophyma. This procedure is less aggressive, is easy to perform, and leads to a significant result. Furthermore, no complications such as scarring or hyperpigmentation were recorded following this operation after long-term follow-up. In some degree, a similar technique has been reported in the literature. Silva et al. have described two patients with rhinophyma that underwent tangential excision associated with electrocoagulation with good long-term results [11]. The extent of tissue growth and the severity of the condition can help determine the preferred treatment method. The modality of treatment selected and expert skill result in a better outcome.

4. Conclusion

Because there is no cure with procedures that are aimed only at removing the overgrowth of rhinophyma and reshaping the nose, surgeons should select the option with the least complications. A simple surgical excision using a scalpel to shave off the abnormal tissue with electrocauterization of the bleeding points can be considered as a good treatment option for rhinophyma, as it results in an excellent cosmetic outcome and has short recovery time.

A written consent was obtained from the patient to publish his photos.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


  1. J. Laun, J. Gopman, J. B. Elston, and M. A. Harrington, “Rhinophyma,” Eplasty, vol. 15, Article ID ic25, 2015. View at: Google Scholar
  2. M. Sand, D. Sand, C. Thrandorf, V. Paech, P. Altmeyer, and F. G. Bechara, “Cutaneous lesions of the nose,” Head & Face Medicine, vol. 6, no. 1, article 7, 2010. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  3. J. A. Carlson, J. Mazza, K. Kircher, and T. A. Tran, “Otophyma: a case report and review of the literature of lymphedema (elephantiasis) of the ear,” The American Journal of Dermatopathology, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 67–72, 2008. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  4. D. Popa, G. Osman, H. Parvanescu, R. Ciurea, and M. Ciurea, “The treatment of giant rhinophyma—case report,” Current Health Sciences Journal, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 41–44, 2012. View at: Google Scholar
  5. T. Jansen and G. Plewig, “Clinical and histological variants of rhinophyma including nonsurgical treatment modalities,” Facial Plastic Surgery, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 241–253, 1998. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  6. G. H. Crawford, M. T. Pelle, and W. D. James, “Rosacea: I. Etiology, pathogenesis, and subtype classification,” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 327–341, 2004. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  7. H. Sadick, B. Goepel, C. Bersch, U. Goessler, K. Hoermann, and F. Riedel, “Rhinophyma: diagnosis and treatment options for a disfiguring tumor of the nose,” Annals of Plastic Surgery, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 114–120, 2008. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  8. T. Balasubramanian, “Rhinophyma.,” vol. 3, no. 13, p. 13, 2012, View at: Google Scholar
  9. R. J. Rohrich, J. R. Griffin, and W. P. Adams Jr., “Rhinophyma review and update,” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 110, no. 3, pp. 860–870, 2002. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  10. C. Fink, J. Lackey, and D. J. Grande, “Rhinophyma: a treatment review,” Dermatologic Surgery, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 275–282, 2018. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  11. D. Nunes e Silva, B. R. Moreira dos Santos, L. I. Branquinho, M. Machado de Melo, and M. Rosseto, “Combined treatment for rhinophyma,” Surgical & Cosmetic Dermatology, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 167–171, 2016. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar

Copyright © 2019 Nabeel K. Al Hamzawi and Salih M. Al Baaj. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

More related articles

3876 Views | 295 Downloads | 0 Citations
 PDF  Download Citation  Citation
 Download other formatsMore
 Order printed copiesOrder

Related articles

We are committed to sharing findings related to COVID-19 as quickly and safely as possible. Any author submitting a COVID-19 paper should notify us at to ensure their research is fast-tracked and made available on a preprint server as soon as possible. We will be providing unlimited waivers of publication charges for accepted articles related to COVID-19. Sign up here as a reviewer to help fast-track new submissions.