Cleft Lip and Palate Repair
Children born with an incomplete formation of the upper lip or roof of the mouth (called the palate), are said to have a cleft lip or cleft palate. These conditions can occur individually or together and require surgery to repair.
The University of Kansas Health System provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries for children and adults who suffer from these birth defects. Our interdisciplinary approach means that you receive coordinated care from a team of specialists all working for you.
What is cleft lip and palate repair?
Cleft lip and cleft palate are 2 types of craniofacial anomalies. They are among the most common congenital birth defects present in children. These conditions can vary in severity and may involve 1 or both sides of the mouth. Surgery is required to treat a cleft lip and palate and is a medical necessity in the most severe cases.
Although there is a cosmetic element to cleft lip and palate repair, this treatment is medically important for children who are born with these conditions. Individuals with cleft lip or palate often have difficulty communicating. In severe cases, the individual may have difficulty breathing, eating, hearing or balancing.
Who can have cleft lip and palate repair?
A cleft lip or cleft palate occurs when the 2 sides of the mouth have remained separate while in the womb rather than growing together. In most cases, children who are born with these conditions are candidates for cleft lip and palate repair surgery.
The ideal time for cleft lip repair is between the ages of 3 and 6 months. For cases of cleft palate repair, the ideal time for treatment is between the ages of 9 and 18 months old. Our team of pediatricians, orthodontists, plastic surgeons and other medical professionals will determine the best time for you to schedule the procedure.
How does cleft lip and palate repair work?
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. This restores the function and improves the appearance of the upper lip and palate.
The procedure can normalize speech as well as encourage healthy growth in children and improve swallowing and hearing. From both a psychological and physiological standpoint, cleft lip and palate repair is an important procedure for those experiencing these conditions.
Find a doctor
Doctors at The University of Kansas Health System are care providers and researchers at the forefront of new medical discoveries. From primary care to complex conditions, we offer hundreds of specialists.
Benefits and risks of cleft lip and palate repair
There are many benefits of cleft lip and palate repair surgery, both cosmetic and functional. People who have surgery enjoy a more normal appearance, which can positively impact their overall self-esteem. Additionally, important functions like speaking and eating can be improved. Results will typically be better the earlier you have cleft lip and palate repair, though repair too early may lead to some mouth or jaw deformities.
Possible complications and risks from cleft lip and palate repair can include hemorrhage, respiratory obstruction, hanging palate and dental malpositioning and malalignment. These risks are greatly reduced by working with an experienced team of specialists.