The lower two-thirds of the nose is made of skin and cartilage, while the upper third is the nasal bones. One can consider the external nose, or what is visible, as the roof of a house. The nasal septum would then be considered both the cantilever and buttress of the nose to support the roof. The junction of the septum and nasal cartilage is called the “valve.” The valve is the narrowest portion of the nose, where a majority of nasal blockage occurs. A deviated septum and enlarged turbinates are the most common causes of narrowed valve, but blockage may also occur from scar tissue, weak cartilage, or collapsed nose. Patients who have narrow nostrils or nose or pinched noses typically have a narrow nasal valve.
Treatment is primarily surgery via cartilage grafts to help open the nasal passages and/or to help prevent collapse of the nose. Procedures on the nasal valve are sometimes called functional rhinoplasty or septorhinoplasty.