Upper lip burns and skin grafts used for the resulting deformities all contract, leading to distortion of regional tissues and producing a flattened upper lip devoid of normal anatomic landmarks. Absence of the philtral contour draws attention to the upper lip and can accentuate other reconstructive inadequacies. Philtral restoration requires a 3-dimensional reconstruction capable of resisting contractile forces to restore and maintain normal relationships between the upper and lower lips.
This was a 34-year retrospective review of a single surgeon's experience using a composite triangular fossa graft from the ear for philtral reconstruction
. Ten patients were identified and analyzed using records of follow-up examinations, long-term clinical evaluations, and photographic documentation.
Five males and 5 females were identified with 2- to 34-year follow-up. Age at operation ranged from 14 to 52 years. Percent total body surface area ranged from less than 1% to greater than 90%. Previous upper lip grafts prior to the auricular graft included 5 full-thickness skin grafts and 5 split-thickness skin grafts. No significant complications were noted. All patients were satisfied with the end aesthetic result and donor site morbidity.
A triangular fossa composite graft restores and preserves the philtral dimple and corrects the obvious visible deformity of a featureless upper lip. Addition of tissue loosens the lip transversely, and the cartilage component provides a consistent and predictable upper lip position. This results in improved projection, a concave shape to the upper lip, and a better relationship with the lower lip. Restoration of this anatomic landmark creates a more normal-appearing upper lip and helps to minimize the negative impact of other abnormalities in this vitally important area. The overall improvement in total facial appearance can be profound.