Cleft-Lip and Palate Repair
We know the process of going through surgery is not easy when it involves your child. Our compassionate team will take good care of your child and you. We know you will be happy with the results.
Approximately one of every 800 babies is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. A cleft lip is a separation of the upper lip that can extend into the nose. When the roof of the mouth, or palate, doesn’t grow together, it is known as a cleft palate. Your child may have either a cleft lip or cleft palate, or both may occur together. They can also involve just one side or both sides of his/her face. Cleft lip surgery is generally done when the child is around 10 weeks old and weighs at least 10 pounds. Cleft palate surgery is usually performed between nine and 18 months of age.
There are important reasons that cleft lip and cleft palate surgery are necessary. These include:
- Create a more normal appearance
- Improve ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe
We want you to be informed before making your choices. Our caring team will take the time to listen to your needs and fully explain everything. We will develop a personal plan customized for your needs. You can feel confident in our excellent care.
Your surgeon will make sure you are comfortable with everything. Some of the items they will discuss with you include:
- Care team
- Possibility of a second surgery
- Scarring with cleft lip surgery
- Feeding your child
- Ear infections with cleft palates
We will coordinate your child’s care with your entire team of professionals. In addition to the physical problem of the cleft lip or cleft palate, your child may have difficulty with feeding, his/her teeth, hearing, speech and psychological development. Your plastic surgeon will work closely with your entire care team which may include a pediatrician, dentist, speech and language specialist, social worker, hearing specialist, ear-nose-throat specialist, psychologist and more.
Possibility of a second surgery
A second surgery may be needed to correct function or appearance.
In cleft lip surgery, it is common for one side of the mouth and nose to not match the other side. The first surgery is done to close the separation. Occasionally a second surgery is needed to correct the asymmetry and match the sides of the mouth and nose. If there is a nostril deformity, it may be corrected during the lip repair or may require a second surgery.
Cleft palate surgery is done to close the opening in the roof of the mouth so the child can eat and learn to speak properly. If there is poor healing in the palate or speech difficulties, a second surgery may be needed. In addition, it may be recommended to refine the shape and function of the lip, nose, gums and palate when your child is older.
Scarring with cleft lip surgery
The surgical scar may appear to get larger and more red in color. This is normal. There will be a permanent scar from cleft lip surgery, but it should gradually fade with time. The scar usually blends with the shadows from the nose and upper lip.
Feeding your child
Your surgeon will answer any questions you may have about feeding your child. In some cases of cleft lips, your surgeon may recommend a device that goes inside your child’s mouth prior to surgery to aid in feeding. It is important to follow your surgeon’s guidelines to allow the lip or palate to heal properly. Following cleft palate surgery, your child may have an intravenous line for a couple of days to maintain fluid levels, as it will be difficult to feed him/her.
Ear infections with cleft palate
A cleft palate can interfere with the function of the middle ear. For this reason, children with a cleft palate are prone to ear infections. It may be recommended to insert a small plastic ventilation tube in the eardrum to permit proper drainage and air circulation. This may be done at the time of cleft palate repair, or done at a later date.
Each cleft lip or cleft palate surgery is based on an individual’s body. We would be happy to schedule a consultation to answer any questions you may have and provide our recommendation on what we think is best for your child. Your child will be well taken care of at Cosmetic Plastic Surgeons. We are confident you will be pleased with the results.