Christie Clinic - Medicine for Your Life

Our website is currently having technical difficulties. To view the site, please click here

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

An invaluable resource of health information.

Cleft lip and palate repair

Cleft lip and cleft palate repair is surgery to fix birth defects of the upper lip and palate (roof of the mouth).

  • Alternative Names

    Orofacial cleft; Craniofacial birth defect repair; Cheiloplasty; Cleft rhinoplasty; Palatoplasty; Tip rhinoplasty

  • Description

    A cleft lip is a birth defect:

    • A cleft lip may be just a small notch in the lip. It may also be a complete split in the lip that goes all the way to the base of the nose.
    • A cleft palate can be on one or both sides of the roof of the mouth. It may go the full length of the palate.
    • Your child may have one or both of these conditions at birth.

    Most times, cleft lip repair is done when the child is 6 to 12 weeks old.

    For cleft lip surgery, your child will have general anesthesia (asleep and not feeling pain). The surgeon will trim the tissues and sew the lip together. The stitches will be very small so that the scar is as small as possible. Most of the stitches will absorb into the tissue as the scar heals, so they will not have to be removed later.

    Most times, cleft palate repair is done when the child is older, between 9 months and 1 year old. This allows the palate to change as the baby grows. Doing the repair when the child is this age will help prevent further speech problems as the child develops.

    In cleft palate repair, your child will have general anesthesia (asleep and not feeling pain). Tissue from the roof of the mouth may be moved over to cover the soft palate. Sometimes a child will need more than 1 surgery to completely close the palate.

    During these procedures, the surgeon may also need to repair the tip of your child’s nose. This surgery is called rhinoplasty.

  • Why the Procedure Is Performed

    This type of surgery is done to correct a physical defect caused by a cleft lip or cleft palate. It is important to correct these conditions when they cause problems with nursing, feeding, or speech.

  • Risks

    Risks from any anesthesia are:

    Risks from any surgery are:

    Problems these surgeries may cause are:

    • The bones in the middle of the face may not grow correctly.
    • The connection between the mouth and nose may not be normal.
  • Before the Procedure

    You will meet with a speech therapist or feeding therapist soon after your child is born. The therapist will help you find the best way to feed your child before the surgery. Your child must gain weight and be healthy before surgery.

    Your child’s surgeon may:

    • Test your child’s blood (do a complete blood count and "type and cross" to check your child’s blood type)
    • Take a complete medical history of your child
    • Do a complete physical examination of your child

    Always tell your child’s doctor or nurse:

    • What drugs you are giving your child
    • Include drugs, herbs, and vitamins you bought without a prescription

    During the days before the surgery:

    • About 10 days before the surgery, you will be asked to stop giving your child aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your child’s blood to clot.
    • Ask your child’s doctor which drugs the child should still take on the day of the surgery.

    On the day of the surgery:

    Most times, your child will not be able to drink or eat anything for several hours before the surgery.

    • Give your child a small sip of water with any drugs your doctor told you to give your child.
    • Your child’s doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive for the surgery.
    • The doctor will make sure your child is healthy before the surgery. If your child is ill, surgery may be delayed.
  • After the Procedure

    Your child will probably be in the hospital for 5 to 7 days right after surgery. Complete recovery can take up to 4 weeks.

    The surgery wound must be kept very clean as it heals. It must not be stretched or have any pressure put on it for 3 to 4 weeks. Your child’s nurse should show you how to take care of the wound. You will need to clean it with soap and water or a special cleaning liquid, and keep it moist with ointment.

    Until the wound heals, your child will be on a liquid diet. Your child will probably have to wear arm cuffs or splints to limit their arm movement. It is important they do not put their hands or toys in their mouth.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    Most babies heal without problems. How your child will look after healing often depends on how serious their defect was. Your child might need another surgery to fix their scar from the surgery wound.

    If your child had a cleft palate repair, they may need to see a dentist or orthodontist. Their teeth may need correcting as they come in.

    Hearing problems are common in children with cleft lip or cleft palate. Your child should have a hearing test early on, and it should be repeated over time.

    Your child may still have problems with speech after the surgery. This is caused by muscle problems in the palate. Speech therapy will help your child.

  • References

    Arosarena OA. Cleft lip and palate. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007 Feb;40(1):27-60.

    Friedman O, Wang TD, Milczuk HA. Cleft lip and palate. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2005:chap 176.

Review Date: 12/7/2008

Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris Photo Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on University Photo Christie Clinic on University
101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
Billing Services: (217) 366-1382
Toll Free: (888) 391-0412
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care
1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant Photo Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant
1400 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 366-1200
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Rantoul Photo Christie Clinic in Rantoul
209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care
1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Tuscola Photo Christie Clinic in Tuscola
300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
Christie Clinic CU Sleep Photo CU Sleep
1207 South Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 355-1684
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic Cancer Center Photo Christie Clinic Cancer Center
109 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 366-5180
Christie Clinic Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan) Photo Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan)
2901 West Kirby Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care
1710 East Windsor Road Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 344-9440
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan
800 North Logan Avenue Danville, IL 61832 (217) 431-8930
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Fox Drive Photo Christie Clinic on Fox Drive
2110 Fox Drive, Suite B Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic Photo Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic
1109 B North State Street Monticello, IL 61856 (217) 366-1304
Gibson Area Hospital
1120 N Melvin Gibson City, IL 60936 (217) 784-2240
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mattoon Photo Christie Clinic in Mattoon
105 B Professional Plaza Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 345-3000
Christie Clinic Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System Photo Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System
1000 Health Center Drive Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 258-2588
Christie Clinic The Champaign SurgiCenter Photo The Champaign SurgiCenter
1702 S. Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 326-2030
Christie Clinic The Carle Foundation Hospital Photo The Carle Foundation Hospital
611 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 383-3311
Iroquois Memorial Hospital
200 E. Fairman Ave. Watseka, IL 60970 (815) 432-5841
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Savoy Photo Christie Clinic in Savoy
501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
Christie Clinic on West Park Street
1405 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 217-366-1237
Christie Clinic in Monticello
107 West Main Street Monticello, IL 61856 217.762.3352
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Decatur Photo Christie Clinic in Decatur
100 South Water Street Suite 103 Decatur, IL 62523 217-362-0661- telephone
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care
3545 North Vermilion Street Danville, IL 61832 (217) 442-8611