An active depressor septi muscle can accentuate a drooping nasal tip and shorten the upper lip on animation. We have found that dissection and transposition of the depressor septi muscle during rhinoplasty can improve the tip-upper lip relationship in appropriately selected patients. Although the anatomy of the depressor septi muscle has been described, the anatomic variations of this muscle have not been previously reported. The goals of this study were two-fold: (1) to define the anatomic variations of the depressor septi muscle using 55 fresh cadaver dissections and (2) to develop a clinically applicable algorithm for modification of this muscle during rhinoplasty in those patients with a short upper lip and/or tip - upper lip imbalance. Fifty-five fresh cadavers were dissected, and the anatomic variations of the depressor septi muscle were recorded. Three variations of the depressor septi muscle were delineated: type I inserted fully into the orbicularis oris (62 percent); type II inserted into the periosteum and incompletely into the orbicularis oris (22 percent); and type III showed no, or rudimentary, depressor septi muscle (16 percent). Sixty-two patients over a 4-year period (from 1995 to 1999) were identified preoperatively with a hyperactive depressor septi diagnosed by a descending nasal tip and shortened upper lip on animation. These patients underwent dissection and transposition (not resection) of the paired depressor septi during rhinoplasty with improvement or correction of the tip-upper lip imbalance in 88 percent of cases. The anatomic study, surgical indications, rationale for the operative technique, and clinical cases are presented. Dissection and transposition of the depressor septi is a valuable adjunct to rhinoplasty in patients with a type I or II muscle variant.
ASJC Scopus subject areas