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Technical Strategies – Submental Tracheal Reduction

 

The reduction of a prominent Adam’s Apple is known as a tracheal shave. Done directly over the tracheal prominence through a small skin incision the V-shaped thyroid cartilage is reduced, as the name indicates, by shaving it down with a scalpel blade. Since the prominence is composed of cartilage it can be reduced in layers with the sharp edge of a blade. As patients age the thyroid cartilage becomes stiffer and more calcified and may have to be burred down for an effective reduction.

While the skin incision for a tracheal shave is small and often heals exceedingly well, the risk of a visible scar always exists. While the procedure will always require a skin incision, an alternative location would be higher in the submental region under the chin. This distant incision location requires the creation of a subcutaneous tunnel down the midline from the chin to the thyroid prominence. Using a fiberoptic retractor the prominent cartilage can be seen and dissected free of overlying tissues.

Because the thyroid cartilage is a mobile structure, trying to shave it down with a scalpel blade from a remote incision is difficult. For this reason I prefer to use a handpiece and drill and burr the cartilage prominence down. This works just as well on soft cartilage as it does on harder cartilage. A small round or tapered carbide burr removes cartilage structure rapidly. Within the tight space of this subcutaneous tunnel it is important to be careful with a rapidly rotating burr to not inadvertently engage the surrounding soft tissues.

Because of the more limited visibility from this remote incision, a submental reduction should not be used when larger tracheal shaves are needed. Better control of the shape of thyroid prominence can be obtained by a direct incisional approach.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana


Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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