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All About Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Yv Rao 88% (333 ratings)
MBBS, MS - General Surgery, M.Ch - Plastic Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Hyderabad  •  34 years experience
All About Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery

Cleft lip and palate repair surgery is a surgical procedure, which is used to fix problems of the upper lip and palate. A cleft may be a small patch on the lip or a complete furrow that extends all the way to the lower part of the nose. A child usually has one or both of these conditions at birth. This is a serious birth defect and can only be corrected with specialized plastic surgery techniques.

Why it is needed?

Cleft lip and palate surgery is necessary to correct abnormal development of upper lip in a child and to restore a normal appearance and function. The surgery can improve the child's ability to speak, hear and eat. In most cases the surgery is done when the child is between nine months to 1 year old, so as to allow the palate to change along with the growth of the baby.

Steps to be taken before the procedure

A therapist needs to be consulted before the surgery, as the therapist would analyze the best way to feed the child before surgery. The child must gain weight and has to be healthy before the surgery is performed. The health provider may do some blood tests and carry out a complete physical examination of the child. About 10 days prior to the surgery, it is necessary to stop giving the child aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin and any other drug that inhibits the clotting of blood.

Risk factors

  1. Risks from anesthesia include breathing problems, reaction to the medicine, bleeding and infections in some cases.
  2. Problems caused by the surgery itself may include abnormal growth of the bones in the middle of the face and abnormality in the connection between the mouth and the nose.

Post surgical care tips

The child will be kept in the hospital for 5 to 7 days after surgery and complete recovery may require up to 4 weeks. The following tips need to be followed for quicker recovery:

  1. The surgery wound must be kept clean by washing it with soap, water or any other cleaning liquid.
  2. The wound must be kept moist with ointment.
  3. It is advised to prevent the child from picking at the wound by using arm cuffs and splinters.

Related Tip: "Benefits of Cleft Lip Surgery"

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