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J Craniofac Surg. 2012 Sep;23(5):1349-54.

Alar web in cleft lip nose deformity: study in adult unilateral clefts.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, C.S.M Medical University, Lucknow, India.



The correction of alar webbing in unilateral cleft lip nose deformity is challenging because of progressive distortions in the alar web region during the period of growth. Alar webbing is a persistent universal deformity in both the primary and secondary cleft lip noses. The purpose of this article is to study the alar web deformity in adult patients with unilateral cleft lip noses.


Twenty-five patients aged 13 years and older presenting with unilateral cleft nasal deformity were included. Preoperative and postoperative measurements of the nose, along with detailed intraoperative recording of the deformed anatomy, were done. Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging was also done in selected cases. Transcolumellar open rhinoplasty was performed in all the cases, and nasal septal straightening with centralization was done. Cleft alar base augmentation was done using bone graft to restore symmetry of the nasal tripod. Both the cleft and noncleft alar cartilages were extensively mobilized from the skin and mucosal sides. The overgrown and caudally slumped cleft-side alar cartilage was resected caudally and was then resuspended in a symmetrical position with the noncleft alar cartilage. A midline-strut septal cartilage extension graft was used to restore the tip aesthetics. The skin overlying the alar web was in-rolled after semilunar cartilage resection, and skin excision was also done to restore symmetry with the opposite vestibule. The remaining secondary cleft nasal and lip deformities were corrected depending upon the specific presenting pathologic abnormality.


The cleft alar cartilage was found to be caudally displaced in all the cases. The caudal border of the lateral crus was prolapsing in the cavity of the vestibule on the superomedial aspect and was tenting the skin in the area of the weak triangle, producing the characteristic alar web deformity. In the study group, the maximum width of the cleft alar cartilage at the level of the lateral crus was increased by approximately 4 mm when compared with the noncleft alar cartilage. The before- and after-rhinoplasty surgery results were objectively assessed using a patient, surgeon, and independent observer survey. The cosmetic result of the nasal tip complex was found to be very good and good (90%), satisfactory (5%), and poor (5%) in patients.


The alar web in unilateral cleft lip nose deformity is the result of caudal overgrowth and migration of the alar cartilage. The caudal edge of the prolapsed lateral crus overhangs the cleft-side nasal aperture on its superomedial aspect, producing this deformity. Satisfactory correction of this deformity should envisage caudal resection and repositioning of the dislocated alar cartilage along with caudal resection of the lateral crus with in-rolling of the skin after resection to achieve symmetric results in unilateral cleft lip rhinoplasty.

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