I Am a 21 Year Old Woman with a Cleft Lip and Palate, Can My Nostrils be Fixed?

I had no air flow from my left nostril until about 4 years ago. I have had 4 nose surgeries to work on my deviated septum and to open air flow. The air flow is still not good and I am wanting my nostrils to be symmetrical as my left one (on the side of my cleft lip) is much smaller. I want to know if this is possible. I have seen the top craniofacial/cleft lip surgeon in Houston since I was born. He has done an alright job but when I have asked him to work on my nostrils he hasnt. Can it be done?

Doctor Answers 2

Improving nasal asymmetries with surgery

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Your photos demonstrate characteristic cleft nasal deformities that can affect the nasal dorsum (the top part of the nose), the ala (the nostril openings), and the soft tissue triangle (the front aspect of the nostril).  Cleft Rhinoplasty is the name of the procedure for improving these asymmetries, and yes, based on the information that you provided, a significant improvement is possible and would be the goal of surgery.  
As you can imagine as a cleft patient, cleft rhinoplasty is common for cleft patients, but is not common knowledge for patients without clefts. Its a procedure that requires specific techniques, and accordingly, experienced rhinoplasty surgeons may not perform cleft rhinoplasty and experienced cleft lip surgeons may not perform cleft rhinoplasty either.  The emphasis for you should be on finding a plastic surgeon with significant cleft rhinoplasty experience. 

Austin Plastic Surgeon

Nostril asymmetry with cleft lip and palate

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Cleft lip reconstructive rhinoplasty is a very difficult procedure to perform.  There are always asymmetries.  The asymmetries are best addressed through expanding the smaller ala and reducing the large ala.  This involves multiple complicated tip techniques, cartilage grafts, and suturing techniques.  

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.