Cleft Lip & Palate Repair
Cleft Lip and Palate Repair
Cleft Lip Repair Surgery
What is a Cleft Lip Repair?
The cleft affects the facial form as an anatomic deformity and has functional consequences. These include the child’s ability to eat, speak, hear, and breathe. Consequently, rehabilitation of a child born with a facial cleft must involve a multidisciplinary approach and staged appropriately with the child’s development, balancing the timing of intervention against its effect on subsequent normal growth. It may be a small notch in the upper lip or a complete split that goes all the way to the base of the nose. A cleft lip may appear alone or in conjunction with a cleft palate.
A cleft, or separation of the upper lip, occurs very early in the development of your unborn child. During fetal development, certain components of the upper lip and roof of the mouth fail to form normally. Cleft lip repair is a type of plastic surgery to correct this abnormal development both to restore function and to restore a more normal appearance. Most clefts can be repaired through specialized plastic surgery techniques, improving your child’s ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe, and to restore a more normal appearance and function.
What to expect during the Cleft Lip Repair procedure?
A cleft lip repair may be done when the child is 2 to 3 months old, but on average from six months to even as late as two years and cleft palate repair from six months to as late as three years after birth. Before surgery, you will meet with specialists to help ensure your child is healthy and gaining any necessary weight. Your doctor will also discuss anesthesia options with you.
During cleft lip repair surgery, incisions are made on either side of the cleft. This creates flaps of tissue that can be stitched together to close the opening of the cleft. Once the cleft is repaired, your surgeon may also construct a cupid’s bow, the curve at the center of the lip. These repairs are generally made with small, absorbable stitches that will not need to be removed at a later date.
After surgery, your child may spend 1 to 3 days in the hospital for recovery. 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.
What to expect during the recovery for the Cleft Lip Repair procedure?
In most cases, your child will heal and continue to develop normally. The specific results will depend, in large part, on how serious the defect was before surgery. Some children may require additional surgery to repair scarring caused by the cleft lip repair. Your child may also have speech problems after surgery, which can often be addressed through speech therapy.
Cleft Lip Surgery – at birth (left) and age 15 (right)
Cleft Palate Repair Surgery
Also known as a Palatoschisis Repair
What is Cleft Palate Repair?
A cleft palate, or palatoschisis, is the incomplete formation of the roof of the mouth. This is a birth defect that occurs very early on in the development of an unborn child. A cleft palate may appear on one or both sides of the roof of the mouth and may occur alone or in conjunction with a cleft lip. A cleft palate may cause problems with nursing, feeding, or speech.
A cleft, or separation of the roof of the mouth, occurs very early in the development of your unborn child. During fetal development, certain components of the roof of the mouth fail to form normally. A cleft palate repair is a type of plastic surgery to correct this abnormal development both to restore function and to restore a more normal appearance.
What to expect during the Cleft Palate Repair procedure?
A cleft palate repair is usually done when the child is between 9 and 12 months old, which gives the child’s palate a chance to grow but also helps prevent speech problems as the child develops and learns to talk. Some children may require more than one surgery to completely repair the palate.
During cleft palate repair surgery, incisions are made on either side of the cleft. The surgeon will then reposition the muscles and other hard and soft tissues of the palate in order to close the gap. The opening is generally closed with stitches along the midline of the roof of the mouth. Your child’s plastic surgeon will take special care during the cleft palate repair to consider the relation of the palate to the auditory canal and the future development of the teeth and jaw.
After surgery, you should expect your child to spend 5 to 7 nights in the hospital. 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. Full recovery generally takes about 4 weeks.
What to expect during the recovery for the Cleft Palate Repair procedure?
Some children may require more than one surgery to fully repair a cleft palate. Your child may also need additional procedures if the nose was affected by the cleft or to repair scarring caused by the repair surgery.
As your child grows, regular hearing screenings, speech therapists and regular trips to the dentist throughout the child’s life can help correct any potential problems. In most cases, you can expect your child will enjoy normal development after cleft palate repair.
To find out more about available treatments and procedures, request a consultation with Dr. Moulton-Barrett at one of his Bay Area offices. Board certified plastic surgeon Rex Moulton-Barrett, M.D., offers advanced care and procedures for Bay Area residents. He has offices in Alameda and Brentwood, CA.
2070 Clinton Ave, Alameda, CA 94501