Cleft Lip & Palate Surgery

Cleft lip and cleft palate repair is a surgery to fix birth defects of the upper lip and palate (roof of the mouth).Children can have one or both these conditions at birth.

A cleft lip is a birth defect.A cleft lip may be just a small notch in the lip or a complete split in the lip that goes all the way to the base of the nose.A cleft palate can be a defect on one or both sides of the roof of the mouth. It may be present only on the hard palate or go the full length to involve both the hard and soft palates.

If left untreated, a child born with cleft lip or palate will have issues with feeding, growth, development, ear infections and most significantly,hearing and speech development.Cleft lip repair is done at 3 to 6 months of age while cleft palate repair is done earlier between 6 and 18 months of age.

Virtually every child born with a cleft lip or palate is able to lead a healthy and happy life once the cleft has been repaired. The experience and technical expertise of Dr Amit Bhalotia reflects on every patient he treats.

Procedure

  • Both cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries are done under general anesthesia.
  • For cleft lip surgery, cuts are made on either side of the cleft to trim the tissues and then the edges of the lip are sutured together in layers.
  • For cleft palate repair, specialized flap techniques are used to move the tissues from the roof of the mouth over to cover the defect in the palate.
  • The stitches are very small so that the scar is barely visible. Most of the stitches are absorbed into the tissue as the scar heals, so they do not have to be removed later.
  • Sometimes, children might need more than one surgery to close the palate or correct the positioning of lips.

Recovery & Result

  • Some bleeding from the mouth is expected, and there may be some swelling and crusting on the lip.
  • Patients are usually in the hospital for 5 to 7 days after surgery.
  • Complete recovery can take up to 4 weeks. Until the wound heals, the child is kept on a liquid diet.
  • Most patients heal without problems.
  • The outcome after healing often depends on how severe the original defect was.
  • Sometimes, another cosmetic procedure may be needed to fix the scar from the surgery wound.