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Cleft Lip & Palate

Overview

Cleft Palate / Cleft Lip

cleft lip and palate in Babies

Cleft lip (cheiloschisis) and cleft palate (palatoschisis), which can also occur together as cleft lip and palate, are variations of a type of clefting congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation. A cleft is a fissure or opening. It is the non-fusion of the body’s natural structures that form before birth.

Approximately 1 in 700 children born have a cleft lip and/or a cleft palate. In decades past, the condition was sometimes referred to as harelip, based on the similarity to the cleft in the lip of a hare, but that term is now generally considered to be offensive.

Clefts can also affect other parts of the face, such as the eyes, ears, nose, cheeks, and forehead. In 1976, Paul Tessier described fifteen lines of cleft. Most of these craniofacial clefts are even rarer and are frequently described as Tessier clefts using the numerical locator devised by Tessier.

A cleft lip or palate can be successfully treated with surgery, especially so if conducted soon after birth or in early childhood.

Best Candidates

  • Children born with a cleft lip or palate
  • Minor notches in the lip to complete gaps in the lip or either right or left sides or more rarely on both sides
  • Palatal clefts vary from a notch or bifidity in the uvula to a full cleft to the front of the hard palate

What to Expect

Surgery is done under general anaesthetic, a specialist paediatric anaesthetist is needed and specialized recovery room nursing is also important to ensure safety of the child’s airway.

External lip sutures are removed under a quick general anaesthetic a week after surgery, then supporting tape is applied. Palate sutures are all dissolving over a period of 3-4 weeks. Children with ‘clefts’ need at least annual review to check on appearance, speech and dental development, being followed carefully for 16-20 years! Other surgery may be needed later.

After Surgery / Recovery

External lip sutures are removed under a quick general anaesthetic a week after surgery, then supporting tape is applied. Palate sutures are all dissolving over a period of 3-4 weeks. Children with ‘clefts’ need at least annual review to check on appearance, speech and dental development, being followed carefully for 16-20 years! Other surgery may be needed later.

Procedure Planner

  • Initial Meeting
    30-45 minutes First consultation
  • Pre-op
    30 minutes for photos, consent, documentation
  • Procedure Time
    Single cleft lip 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Double cleft lip 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Cleft palate 1 1/2 hours - 2 hours
  • Recovery Time
    About 2 weeks
  • Post-op Follow Up
    Weeks 1 & 2 for wound checks, taping. Surgeon review at 3/12, then annually.

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