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cleft lipCleft lip affects numerous children throughout the world. Consider a recent article for the Guardian titled “The day we learned our son had a cleft lip.”

William Skidelsky of the Guardian writes, “In May 2011, my wife and I discovered that our first child had a cleft lip and palate. The diagnosis took place in the 22nd week of pregnancy. Unsurprisingly, the news came as a considerable shock, made worse by the fact that, just a few months earlier, we’d been forced to terminate another pregnancy at 18 weeks after the foetus was discovered to have a rare and fatal disorder that meant crucial internal organs would never develop. This new diagnosis – which turned out to be unrelated to what had gone wrong previously – caught us wholly unawares. In common with most people, we knew little about clefts. Despite being the most common birth defect, with an incidence of roughly 1 in 700 in the UK, clefts are, particularly in developed countries, seldom discussed and largely invisible. Before hearing the sonographer’s verdict that day, I’d never knowingly met or even seen anyone who had one. I vaguely knew that ‘hare lips’ were associated with inbreeding – and, by extension, were common in remote rural communities – and I’d read JM Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K, whose protagonist has a cleft. But that was about the extent of my knowledge. Learning that your child has a disability, no matter how mild (and as birth defects go, clefts are mild), is a shock on several levels. There’s the selfish impulse to ask: ‘Why me?’ (In our case, this was magnified by a further question: ‘Why us, again?’) Equally selfishly, there’s the fear of what it will entail, the worry and disruption that it may cause. Pretty much every parent, I think, starts from the assumption that his or her child will be normal (whatever that really means). This assumption is so deeply embedded that any certain knowledge of abnormality represents a serious blow. You instantly feel as if you are crossing a threshold, being drawn into another, unwelcome kind of existence. How will you cope, you find yourself asking, with having a child who isn’t the flawless being you not only expected but, in some sense, considered your right? And how, no less importantly, will other people’s reactions affect you?”

If you are considering cleft lip repair surgery for your child, you need a surgeon you can trust. Rex E. Moulton-Barrett, M.D. is internationally known and acknowledged. He is board certified with The American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and The American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Dr. Moulton-Barrett usually does a cleft lip repair when the child is 2 to 3 months old. The surgery includes making incisions on either side of the cleft. These incisions create flaps of tissue that can be stitched together to close the opening of the cleft. After the cleft is repaired, your surgeon may also construct a cupid’s bow, the curve at the center of the lip. All of these repairs are generally made with small, absorbable stitches that will not need to be removed at a later date. Following surgery, your child may spend one to three days in the hospital for recovery. During that time, you will be taught how to properly care for the surgical site and given instructions for your child’s diet, which will likely include only liquids until the wound heals completely.

For more information, contact us for a consultation.