Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations that occur very early in pregnancy, while the baby is developing inside the mother’s womb. A cleft occurs when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area, and the tissue that is available does not join together properly.
Overview of Cleft Repair
Cleft lip and cleft palate can cause several problems. Children born with cleft lip or cleft palate have some problems with their feeding, hearing, teeth and talking. It is essential to understand that cleft lips and palates are not just cosmetic issues. Cleft surgery is an operation to reconstruct the shape of the lip, nose or palate by joining the tissues that were not joined before the birth. The cleft lip surgery takes place when the baby is at least three months. When the baby is at least 9 to 12 months, the cleft palate can also be repaired.
Type of Cleft Repair
• Cleft lip surgery: the goals of this surgery is to close the skin, muscle and oral side of the lip to provide a more normal function and appearance of the upper lip. In this surgery, the surgeon makes an incision on either side of the cleft and then joins the tissues and skin and stitches to close the cleft.
• Cleft palate surgery: In this method, the surgeon relocates the muscles of the soft palate and rebuilds the roof of the mouth and then stitches to close the cleft.
Cleft Repair Recommended For:
Babies with open cleft or lip
Before Cleft Repair
The surgeon may want to perform some blood tests and ask for a medical history of the child. Parents will also be asked to refrain from giving him or her some medications that reduce clotting for ten days before surgery.
During Cleft Repair
During surgery, the baby will be given general anaesthesia to allow him/her to sleep comfortably during the procedure. This procedure involves trimming away any excess tissue and closing the gap in the lip or palate.
After Cleft Repair
No pressure should be placed on the wound for about 3 to 4 weeks. The wound should be cleaned daily. The surgeon may prescribe some medicines to control the pain. Swelling and bleeding are normal. It is recommended to rinse the child’s mouth with cooled, boiled water after taking milk or medicine for at least two weeks after the surgery.