Structural deformities like a cleft lip or cleft palate don’t just affect the way a childlooks; it also causes difficulty with simple functions like eating and talking. These deformities may exist individually or together. The good news is that most cases of cleft lip/ cleft palate can be corrected through surgery.



Surgery to correct these deformities varies from case to case. They are typically performed in the following order:


  • 3-6 months: cleft lip repair
  • 9-18 months: cleft palate repair
  • 2 years – late teens: follow up surgeries
  • 5-7 years – Palatal expansion

Surgery may be delayed if the child is suffering from life-threatening conditions such as lung or heart disorders.


Types Of Procedures

Surgery to correct a cleft lip or cleft palate is typically performed while the child is under general anesthesia.


Cleft Lip Repair

This surgery is also known as cheiloplasty and is aimed at closing the gap in the lip. The most common surgical procedure used to repair a cleft lip is a rotation advancement repair. An incision is made on both sides of the cleft and a tissue flap is created. The defect is closed in layers- mucosa, muscle and skin are sutured to make the lip look normal in terms of its appearance, function and structure. This procedure may be accompanied by an initial nasal repair procedure.


Cleft Palate Repair

This surgery may involve multiple procedures to rebuild the roof of the child’s mouth and close the gap. The most common procedures used for this repair are the Z-plasty ,V-Y pushback and VWK repair .Depending on the child’s situation, it may involve rebuilding the hard palate, soft palate or both. To perform this, the surgeon will make an incision on both sides of the cleft, reposition the muscles and tissues and then stitch close.


Ear Tube Surgery

Children with a cleft palate may need surgery to place ear tubes-gormet insertion. This will reduce the risk of hearing loss caused by chronic ear fluid. The procedure involves putting tiny tubes in the child’s eardrum to create an opening that keeps fluid from building up.


Palatal Expansion

This procedure involves pushing out and re-aligning the alveolar segments to prepare the child for subsequent bone grafts. A device will be fixed to the teeth or bone and used to widen the palate with the help of a jackscrew.


Reconstructive Surgery

These follow up surgeries may be performed to correct the appearance of the lips, mouth and nose by:


  • Establishing adequate distance between the nose and upper lip
  • Forming the curves along the middle of the upper lip
  • Restoring nasal symmetry
  • Straightening the tissue that separates the nostrils
  • Repairing defects in the gumline

The scars of these surgeries are usually positioned to complement the natural contours of the nose and upper lip. However, it is more than a cosmetic repair so you must take the condition seriously and take corrective measures on time.


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