A cleft lip is a birth defect:
Most times, cleft lip repair is done when the child is 6 to 12 weeks old.
A cleft, or separation of the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth, occurs very early in the development of the unborn child. During fetal development, certain components of the upper lip and roof of the mouth fail to form normally. Cleft lip and 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.
Most clefts can be repaired through specialized plastic surgery techniques, improving childs ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe, and to restore a more normal appearance and function.
Risks of repair
Problems these surgeries may cause are:
Before the Procedure
You will meet with a speech therapist or feeding therapist soon after your child is born. The therapist will help you find the best way to feed your child before the surgery. Your child must gain weight and be healthy before surgery.
The child’s surgeon may ask for:
Always tell child’s doctor or nurse:
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
Most times, your child will not be able to drink or eat anything for several hours before the surgery.
After the Procedure
Your child will probably be in the hospital for 5 to 7 days right after surgery. Complete recovery can take up to 4 weeks.
The surgery wound must be kept very clean as it heals. It must not be stretched or have any pressure put on it for 3 to 4 weeks. You will be taught how to take care of the wound. You will need to clean it with soap and water or a special cleaning liquid, and keep it moist with ointment.
Until the wound heals, your child will be on a liquid diet. Your child will probably have to wear arm cuffs or splints to prevent picking at the wound. It is important for your child not to put hands or toys in the mouth.
Most babies heal without problems. How your child will look after healing often depends on how serious the defect was. Your child might need another surgery to fix the scar from the surgery wound.
A child who had a cleft palate repair may need to see a dentist or orthodontist. The teeth may need correcting as they come in.
Hearing problems are common in children with cleft lip or cleft palate. Your child should have a hearing test early on, and it should be repeated over time.
Your child may still have problems with speech after the surgery. This is caused by muscle problems in the palate. Speech therapy will help your child.
A cleft lip is an opening extending through the upper lip. It may be in the center or left and/or right side of the lip. A cleft palate is an opening of the hard palate, the bony front portion of the roof of the mouth or the soft palate, the muscular non-bony region in the rear of the roof of the mouth. Similar to a cleft lip, a cleft palate may be midline and/or to either right of left side of the palate. A cleft palate may extend from the upper jawbone to the rear of the throat.
Since development of the lip and palate occur at different times during gestation, an infant may have either a cleft lip or cleft palate or clefting of both regions.
There are a number of complications that may affect infants and children with cleft lip and palate. These include the following:
While the effective treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate requires many surgical procedures, speech therapy, and consultation with many medical specialists, it should be anticipated that an excellent outcome regarding appearance and function can be achieved.
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