What's the name of the two lines between your nose and upper lip?

The charming and always courteous Mr. Radi Akel asked in his own inimitable fashion for "the name of the two lines between your nose and upper lip." While mrlucky assumes that this slipshod query was actually intended to seek out the name of the depression between those 'lines', I will map out the entire region for you, Radi. Here at askmrlucky, we believe in giving the client what he wants, even when he's incapable of asking for it correctly.

I sought this information from a logical source, by asking a bunch of plastic surgeons on AOL. The first wonderful thing I learned was that a majority of these busy professionals were both quick and willing to edify me.

DoctorDave (I'm pretty much stuck with AOL screen names here) was the first to reply. He indicated that "the structure that consists of two vertical ridges with a shallow 'sulcus' in the center...is called the philtrum."

Plasticos answered much the same, and added the root derivation of the word, which is from the Greek philtron, a love-charm, from phileo, to love.

RAPMD added that those ridges (the lines you actually asked about) are referred to as philtral ridges. These form two borders of the philtrum. Above is the columella at the center base of the nose. Below is the tubercle of the lip in the center of "Cupid's Bow". Pretty florid terminology for a pit that catches snot, I thought.

RAPMD clarified the Cupid's Bow metaphor thusly: "If you can envision the center of the lip as the bow's handle and the bottom of the philtral column as the bends in the bow above and below your hand as it holds the bow, the whole thing resembles a bow. It is an important landmark in cleft lip repair."

He went on to explain that there is a rare, abnormal condition where the philtrum is absent, called holoprosencephaly. It is often confused with the more common cleft lip. It shocked me to learn that the condition is often fatal; hardly any children live past the first year of life with holoprosencephaly. Further inquiry to RAPMD provided insight, not only into this specific disorder, but into the ramifications of congenital defects in general.

Dr. DeMeyer has stated (writes RAPMD) that "the face reflects the brain." As a child develops in the mother's womb, development of the facial structures takes place via a rearrangement of soft tissue and nervous structures. The philtral columns, for instance, are actually the fusion point of where the outside or lateral structures meet in development.

See where this is going? The improperly formed facial structure reflects a problem with brain development, 'cause everything's going on at once. Although holoprosencephaly may APPEAR to only manifest as a missing philtrum, in actuality the front part of the brain (the prosencephalon) is not developed and this is incompatible with life. In addition there are other chromosomal abnormalities that go with this that contributes to early death of these children. Although as a group these are rare congenital problems, holoprosencephaly is the most common of this group of congenital defects.

Gosh. Radi's ferocious screed took me down an enlightening path that I would never have thought to travel. Thanks, Werowance. Such serendipities are just part of the reason I call myself mrlucky.

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