Whether your nose is described as a button or Roman, its size and shape are rooted deep inside your DNA. This fact may seem trivial, but it’s extremely important for any person considering rhinoplasty. Studies indicate that four individual genes determine the length and width of this prominent facial feature.

Their findings provide clues on how the human face has evolved over the centuries. There is evidence that ethnic background is a significant factor that determines the characteristics of your facial features, including the shape of your nose. The geographic region of your ancestors influenced their facial structures. While many of us associate our nose primarily for breathing and smelling, it also regulates the humidity and temperature of the available air to breathe. Particular nose shapes are useful in colder, dry climates, while other contours are better suited for warmer, more humid areas. To further illustrate, a narrow-bridged nose is prevalent among most Europeans because it adapted to living in a dryer, colder climate.

These attributes, like the nostril size and the bridge width, are encoded in that person’s genome. Researchers sought volunteers from South and Central America, Europe, Africa, and Native Americans to create 3D imaging of their faces. Through these efforts, they were able to obtain the precise measurements of particular features looking for similarities between the groups to match DNA traits.

It’s All in the Genes

The study identified four distinct genes—PAX1, GL13, RUNX2, and DCHS2—with different expressions that determine the pointiness of the nose and width of its bridge. The genes GL13, PAX1, and DCHS2 involve cartilage and bone development and growth in the face. PAX1 and GLI3 determine nostril size, and DCHS2 influences a pointy nose. The gene RUNX2 determines the size of the nose bridge.

Professor Kaustubh Adhikari of University College, London, was the lead author of this study and stated in a press release that these findings are clues on how we as humans evolved from the Neanderthal. These new findings are the most significant genetic differences discovered between our Neanderthal ancestors’ and our modern DNA.

How Does This Affect Me?

These applications are not only scientific breakthroughs for forensic science that allow researchers to draw a clearer understanding of our DNA makeup and how it affects our appearance, but it can help those of us who need or want aesthetic improvement. We are unique not only because of our ancestral origins, but we also have distinct facial anatomies from patient to patient. Understanding these differences, plastic surgeons like Dr. Steven Montante can assess our nasal structure and deliver substantial improvement to help us attain our cosmetic goals. A highly-skilled surgeon will understand how your genetics play a role in your facial anatomy, and how your features work together to achieve harmony and beauty. By keeping in mind your heritage, Dr. Montante can ensure natural-looking, stunning results.

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If you are considering a nose job and would like more information on how rhinoplasty can help you get the nose that will balance your facial attributes, schedule a consultation with Dr. Montante today.