Cleft Lip and Palate Repair
Our plastic surgery team in Overland Park proudly performs cleft lip and palate repair surgeries for people who suffer from these birth defects:
- Repairs cleft lip and palate
- Promotes normal speech development
- Improves breathing and speaking
Who should undergo a cleft lip and palate repair?
The cleft lip and palate repair surgery corrects a narrow gap in the skin of the upper lip, extending to the nose and a separation in the roof of the mouth. Individuals with this issue often have difficulty communicating. The procedure can normalize speech, as well as encourage healthy growth in children and improve swallowing. The earlier an individual is able to undergo the procedure, the better the results may be, though repair too early may lead to some mouth or jaw deformities.
What happens during surgery?
For children as young as 3 months, the cleft lip repair procedure takes about 1-2 hours to complete and is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make incisions on both sides of the cleft, turning down the dark pink outer portion. Your surgeon will then pull together the skin and muscle of the lip and restore muscle function, as well as a "cupid's bow" shape. Sutures will be inset, and a temporary nasal stent will be placed.
The cleft palate repair can be completed on children as young as 9-18 months and takes 2-3 hours to complete. Your surgeon will make incisions on both sides of the separation and move the tissue flaps to the center of the mouth, joining the muscle to improve eating and speech functions. Sutures will then be used to close the incisions.
What should I expect after surgery?
After undergoing cleft lip repair, children can immediately resume bottle-feeding with a crosscut nipple. After several days, the sutures will be removed. For about 2 weeks, the child should not play with pacifiers or pointed-edge toys. Velcro immobilizers may be used to prevent injury. Until the scar has matured, direct sun exposure should be avoided. The exposed sutures should be cleansed with cotton swabs and antibiotic ointment.
Following a cleft palate repair, an oral fluid will be given to the patient as soon as they regain consciousness. Effective analgesia will be provided through a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Arm restraints may be necessary to prevent self-inflicted injury.
Possible complications and risks from cleft lip and palate repair may include hemorrhage, respiratory obstruction, hanging palate and dental malpositioning and malalignment.