Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and palate

What are cleft lip and palate surgeries?

Cleft lip and palate which are medically referred to as cheiloschisis and palatoschisis respectively, are two of the most commonly occurring birth disorders seen in America. This condition results from the incomplete formation of the roof of the mouth, or the upper lip. These defects can either occur independently, or in combination with one another varying in terms of severity. They may be unilateral or bilateral. Cleft Palate Diagram

Cleft lip and palate can develop during the fetal life of a child while it is still undergoing development. A cleft is basically defined as an abnormal separation that occurs between the lip and the roof of the mouth due to certain factors which prevent the normal closure from taking place. Fortunately, there are surgeries that can adequately restore the function and normalize the appearance of a cleft lip/palate patient. Certain plastic surgeries which when performed within due course of time, can easily restore the ability of a child to breathe, speak, swallow, eat, and hear normally with outstanding cleft repair.

It is important for parents to consult the right team of specialists the moment the detect birth defects such as cleft lip and palate for timely treatment and management. Some of the professionals that can be approached for treatment of clefts include plastic surgeons, dentists, pediatricians, speech and hearing specialists, ENT specialists and counselors.


Are there any risks and complications related to cleft lip and palate surgeries?

Though there are countless advantages of an early surgical intervention for cleft lip and palate cases, there are also certain chances of risks and complications that all surgeons must discuss with their patients prior to proceeding with the surgery. Some of the complications and risks that are associated with cleft lip and palate surgeries include:

–          Abnormal post surgical bleeding or formation of hematoma

–          Infection at the site of surgery

–          Delayed healing

–          Complications and risks associated with anesthesia administration

–          Contracture

–          Damage to vessels and nerves due to improper technique or accidents during surgery

–          Allergic reactions to materials used during surgery

–          Loss of symmetry

–          Irregularities seen after surgery

–          Chances of revisional surgery due to unsatisfactory results



What are the steps involved in cleft lip and palate surgeries?

The steps involved in conventional cleft lip and palate surgeries performed globally include:

  1. Administration of Anesthesia: Anesthesia is administrated before starting the procedure in order to ensure a painless experience for the patient. Cleft Lip and Palate surgeries may be performed on general anesthesia or complete sedation because they are invasive in nature and the elimination of pain and discomfort is absolutely essential. Based on your medical history, your surgeon will recommend the most suitable drugs and mode of administration for anesthesia.
  2. Creating Suitable Incisions: The basic aim of a cleft lip surgery is to eliminate the gap between the upper lip and restore normal function as well as aesthetics as much as possible. For this purpose, the surgeon creates incisions on each side of the cleft in order to raise flaps comprising of natural tissue which can then be brought together and sutured for ideal closure of the upper lip cleft.
    Correcting cleft palate is more complicated as it requires careful manipulation of the musculature as well as the tissues around the cleft in order to reconstruct the roof of the mouth and close the gap. Similar to the cleft lip procedure, incision are created on each side of the cleft palate in order to raise the specialized flaps which are then used to reorient both soft and hard muscles of the palate. Once the gap has been closed adequately, the muscles are then sutured together typically at the middle of the palate.
  3. Closing Incisions: All incisions for cleft lip and palate surgeries are reoriented and closed with the help of suitable sutures.

It is important to note that more plastic surgeries may be required in the future in order to restore or improve the aesthetics of the patient completely.

Results and recovery from Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery (Click here to view Before & After Photographs):

Stock Photo

Among the specific post surgical instructions that are given to cleft lip and palate surgery patients include taking ample care of the surgical site to allow for proper healing, taking medication and attending all follow up visits with the surgeons whenever scheduled.
Surgeries that aim to correct cleft lip and palate drastically improve the overall lifestyle of patients born of such defects. Once the surgery has been performed, these patients can eat, swallow, breath, hear and speak as normally as any other person. With early interventions, plastic surgeries not only restore normal functionality, but also ideal aesthetics allowing patients to lead confident, happy and healthy lives.