BACKGROUND: Secondary cleft nasal deformity in children of primary school age can result in permanent impact to a child's self-esteem. The ideal technique and timing of addressing the deformity remain controversial, as harvest of septal cartilage affects nasal growth and limits future options. METHODS: Fifty-three patients underwent secondary cleft nasoplasty with resorbable plate placement as a columellar strut. All patients had standardized preoperative and postoperative photographs. Basilar photographs were analyzed for height and width of each nostril, height and width of the nose, and deviation of the nasal tip from midline. RESULTS: In unilateral clefts, improvements in nostril width, nostril height, tip height, and tip deviation were found to be statistically significant in early postoperative photographs; improvements in nostril height, tip height, and tip deviation remained statistically significant in late photographs. In patients with bilateral clefts, improvements in nostril height and tip height were found to be significant in early postoperative photographs, with improvement in nostril height remaining significant in the long term. Partial plate exposure limited to the columellar base occurred in five patients (9.4 percent), successfully treated in the clinic setting with no loss of nasal tip support. CONCLUSIONS: The authors provide quantitative data regarding nasal outcomes following secondary cleft nasoplasty using resorbable plates for tip support. Significant long-term improvements in nasal appearance are possible using this technique with minimal complications. In those patients presenting with cleft nasal deformity at primary school age, the use of resorbable plates can improve nasal symmetry and spare native cartilage and thereby reduce the potential for nasal growth disturbance.
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