What is the Philtrum?


The philtrum is the vertical groove or indentation that runs from the bottom of the nose to the upper lip. It is also known as the philtral column or the infranasal depression. The philtrum is a prominent feature of the human face and varies in shape and size among individuals.

Anatomy of the Philtrum

The philtrum is formed during embryonic development when the two halves of the upper lip fuse together. It is located in the middle of the face and is surrounded by the nasal septum, nasal ala, and the upper lip. The philtrum is approximately 1.6 to 2.2 centimeters long and about 4 to 6 millimeters wide.

The Function of the Philtrum

While the philtrum may appear to be a simple groove, it actually serves some important functions:

  1. Facial Expression: The philtrum contributes to facial expressions, particularly during speech, smiling, or other movements involving the lips and mouth.
  2. Sensory Function: The philtrum contains numerous nerve endings, which help with sensory perception and tactile feedback.
  3. Respiration: The philtrum plays a role in directing airflow during respiration, helping to prevent excessive drying of the nasal passages.
  4. Developmental Marker: The presence of a well-defined philtrum is an indicator of normal facial development during embryogenesis.

Can You Inject Filler In the Philtrum? | Dr. Angela Sturm

Factors Affecting the Appearance of the Philtrum

The shape, size, and prominence of the philtrum can vary among individuals due to several factors:

  1. Genetics: The philtrum’s appearance is determined by genetic factors passed down from parents to their offspring.
  2. Age: The philtrum may become more pronounced or less noticeable with age as the facial features change due to factors such as collagen loss and skin elasticity.
  3. Gender: In general, males tend to have a more prominent and defined philtrum compared to females.
  4. Environmental Factors: Certain environmental factors, such as smoking or excessive sun exposure, can affect the appearance of the philtrum and surrounding facial structures.

Common Concerns and Cosmetic Procedures

Some individuals may have concerns about the appearance of their philtrum, such as its size, shape, or symmetry. In such cases, various cosmetic procedures can be performed to alter the philtrum’s appearance:

  1. Lip Augmentation: Dermal fillers can be injected into the philtral columns to enhance the size and shape of the lips.
  2. Rhinoplasty: Nose surgery can indirectly affect the appearance of the philtrum by altering the nasal shape and proportions.
  3. Philtrum Reduction: Surgical procedures can be performed to shorten or reshape the philtrum, although these procedures are relatively rare and require careful consideration.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Can the philtrum be absent?

    While rare, the absence of a philtrum can occur as a result of certain genetic conditions or facial abnormalities. This absence can affect the overall appearance of the upper lip.

  2. What causes a cleft lip and palate?

    A cleft lip and palate occur when the tissues that form the upper lip and the roof of the mouth do not fuse properly during embryonic development. This condition can result in a visible separation in the philtrum and upper lip.

  3. Can the philtrum change over time?

    As an individual ages, the philtrum may undergo changes in appearance due to factors such as collagen loss, skin elasticity, and natural facial aging processes. These changes can contribute to the overall appearance of the face.

  4. Can makeup be used to enhance the philtrum?

    Makeup techniques, such as contouring and highlighting, can be used to create the illusion of a more defined or prominent philtrum. These techniques involve the strategic application of makeup products to enhance certain facial features.

  5. Can the philtrum be surgically altered?

    Yes, surgical procedures can be performed to alter the appearance of the philtrum. However, these procedures are typically reserved for individuals with specific concerns and require careful consideration and consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon.

  6. Is the philtrum unique to humans?

    No, the philtrum is not unique to humans. Many mammals, including primates, dogs, cats, and horses, also have a philtrum-like structure that serves various functions.

  7. Can the philtrum affect speech?

    While the philtrum itself does not directly affect speech, it is closely associated with the movements of the upper lip and mouth, which play a crucial role in speech production. Any abnormalities in the philtrum or upper lip can potentially impact speech.

  8. Is the philtrum more prominent in certain ethnic groups?

    The prominence of the philtrum can vary among different ethnic groups due to genetic factors. Some ethnic groups may have a more pronounced or less defined philtrum compared to others.

  9. Can the philtrum be affected by facial trauma?

    Yes, facial trauma, such as injuries or accidents, can affect the appearance of the philtrum. Fractures or dislocations of the nasal bones or upper lip can alter the shape and alignment of the philtral area.

  10. Is the philtrum linked to any medical conditions?

    While the philtrum itself is not directly linked to specific medical conditions, certain genetic syndromes or abnormalities can affect the development of the philtrum and other facial structures.


The philtrum is a unique and important feature of the human face. Its shape, size, and appearance can vary among individuals due to genetic and environmental factors. While cosmetic procedures can be performed to alter the philtrum’s appearance, it is essential to consult with a qualified medical professional before considering any surgical interventions. Understanding the function and anatomy of the philtrum can help individuals appreciate the beauty and diversity of facial features.

Rate article
Add a comment