The timing of cleft lip nose surgery remains controversial. The less invasive the procedure at the time of primary cleft lip repair, the less the growth and development of the nose is affected. Therefore, the nasal-stenting component of presurgical nasoalveolar molding has increasingly been used. However, not all cleft centers use such treatment. Conventional postsurgical placement of silicone nasal retainers remains popular. No report has yet compared presurgical nasal stenting (preNS) and postsurgical nasal retainer placement (postNR). In this study, postoperative nasal form outcomes after primary lip repair using preNS or postNR in patients with complete unilateral cleft lips, alveoli, and palates were compared. Patients in whom preNS alone was used for 6 months (group I) were compared with those receiving postNR (no preNS) for 6 months after primary nasal cartilage dissection (group II) and controls with no appliance (group III). Nasal anthropometric distances and angular relationships were measured photographically to assess nasal symmetry at 4 years of age in all groups. Compared to group III, groups I and II exhibited significantly greater nostril heights (P = 0.0075, P = 0.0015 respectively) and columellar deviation angles (P = 0.0020, P = 0.0221). Groups I and II did not differ significantly. No significant between-treatment difference in terms of nasal symmetry between preNS and postNR was observed. However, both treatments afforded significantly better results than no treatment. Since older infants tend to resist the placement of nasal devices, preNS is more feasible in this age group.