To determine the relationship between nasolabial symmetry and esthetics in subjects with orofacial clefts.
Eighty-four subjects (mean age 10 years, standard deviation 1.5) with various types of nonsyndromic clefts were included: 11 had unilateral cleft lip (UCL); 30 had unilateral cleft lip and alveolus (UCLA); and 43 had unilateral cleft lip, alveolus, and palate (UCLAP). A 3D stereophotogrammetric image of the face was taken for each subject. Symmetry and esthetics were evaluated on cropped 3D facial images. The degree of asymmetry of the nasolabial area was calculated based on all 3D data points using a surface registration algorithm. Esthetic ratings of various elements of nasal morphology were performed by eight lay raters on a 100 mm visual analog scale. Statistical analysis included ANOVA tests and regression models.
Nasolabial asymmetry increased with growing severity of the cleft (p = 0.029). Overall, nasolabial appearance was affected by nasolabial asymmetry; subjects with more nasolabial asymmetry were judged as having a less esthetically pleasing nasolabial area (p < 0.001). However, the relationship between nasolabial symmetry and esthetics was relatively weak in subjects with UCLAP, in whom only vermilion border esthetics was associated with asymmetry.
Nasolabial symmetry assessed with 3D facial imaging can be used as an objective measure of treatment outcome in subjects with less severe cleft deformity. In subjects with more severe cleft types, other factors may play a decisive role.
Assessment of nasolabial symmetry is a useful measure of treatment success in less severe cleft types.