What Can I Do if There is a Shadow (Not Hair) Above my Upper Lip? (photo)

Hi, im a 16 year old girl, and i was born with a cleft lip. When i was little, i didnt even notice that in certain lighting or when i smile, i get a shadow. i started to worry about it in 6th grade. While camping, a guy said i had like burnt marshmellow on my upper lip, and everyone looked at me. I was so embarrassed... and im not as confident as i was while taking pictures.. people have laughed at me and say i have a mustache.. what can i do to fix this? Please help!!!!!

Doctor Answers (1)

Secondary Cleft Nasal Deformities

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There are several secondary deformities that can result from repair of a bilateral cleft lip, depending on the type of repair that was performed. Among these are a widened nasal tip, a short upper lip, and a shortened columella.

Many people don't realize that the cleft lip repair operation is only one of a series of operations that are required to correct this congenital difference.

At 3 months of age, the lip repair is performed.

At 1 year, the palate is repaired (if necessary).

At 7 years, bone grafts are placed to fill in the alveolar bone and allow stability for permanent teeth. In early adulthood, if teeth are not present, dental implants can be placed to help with restoration.

At 16 years, jaw surgery may be required to correct the bite (occlusion).

In addition, a secondary rhinoplasty is frequently needed to address problems that occur with the function and appearance of the nose. Oftentimes, this is performed in the early teenage years. It requires that an incision be made at the bottom of the nose, and that cartilage be harvested from elsewhere within the nose (the nasal septum) in order to build up and correct the existing abnormal cartilage present. The widened nasal tip can also be adjusted to allow for more projection and refinement. During the closure of the incision, the lip/nose scar can be revised to allow a more natural appearing contour, shape, and color.

In order to be evaluated for a cleft rhinoplasty, patients should seek consultation from a pediatric plastic surgeon. Insurance covers the cost of these visits and subsequent surgery.


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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.