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Cleft Lip Surgery

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

How do you fix a cleft palate?

Cleft lip repair usually leaves a small scar on the lip under the nose. At 9-12 months of age, a cleft palate usually can be repaired. Plastic surgeons connect the muscles of the soft palate and rearrange the tissues to close the cleft. This surgery requires general anesthesia and a short hospital stay for recovery.

How common is cleft lip and palate?

Cleft lip, with or without cleft palate, affects one in 700 babies annually, and is the fourth most common birth defect in the U.S. Clefts occur more often in children of Asian, Latino, or Native American descent. Compared with girls, twice as many boys have a cleft lip, both with and without a cleft palate.

What causes cleft lip and palate in babies?

Cleft lip and cleft palate are thought to be caused by a combination of genes and other factors, such as things the mother comes in contact with in her environment, or what the mother eats or drinks, or certain medications she uses during pregnancy.

How long does it take to repair a cleft lip?

When general anesthesia is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the surgery. This surgery usually takes between 2 to 6 hours, depending on the type of cleft lip repair your child needs. Your child will stay overnight for at least 1 day after the surgery.

Can a cleft palate be fixed?

The cleft lip is usually repaired by the time the baby is between 3 to 6 months old. During surgery, the oral surgeon closes the gap in the lip. A person who has cleft liprepaired as an infant will have a scar on the lip under the nose. The cleft palate is usually repaired at age 9 to 12 months.