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Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery

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Why Choose Marina del Rey Hospital for Cleft Lip and Palate Surgeries?

Our plastic surgeons at Marina del Rey Hospital are trained in pediatric surgery and are always ready to ensure that your child will be safe and healthy.

Due to the transmission of certain genes or to some abnormalities during pregnancy, children may be born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate. These malformations can have a severe impact on the child's health, so surgery is highly recommended in order to treat them.

A cleft lip or a cleft palate occurs when parts of the child's mouth do not completely fuse together. A cleft lip has an opening at the edge of the lip which can run up to the nostril and it can even affect the gums. A cleft palate looks like a split on the roof of the mouth. It can run from the soft palate to the front of the mouth. Clefts are not just an aesthetic issue, they can also cause feeding difficulties, ear problems, speech problems and dental problems. This is why a child needs to go under a surgical procedure in order to avoid these consequences.

Cleft lip and palate surgeries are procedures in which the surgeon stitches the tissues together in order to make them look and function properly.

Both of the surgeries are performed when the patient is under general anesthesia. A cleft lip is usually corrected when the child is between 3 and 6 months old. A cleft palate is repaired when the child is between 9 and 12 months old.

When repairing a cleft lip, the surgeon brings the parts of the lip close to each other and stitches them back together. After a few days, the stitches will be taken out. The doctor will pay close attention where to stitch them, as this surgery will leave a small scar. He will try to make it blend in and as less visible as possible.

When repairing a cleft palate, the surgeon will rearrange the muscles in the palate so that they are attached and function normally. After this, he will close the gap by stitching it. The wound is always closed with dissolvable stitches. Even though this procedure leaves a scar, it will never be visible.

In some cases, as the child grows older, further different surgeries may be required to fix certain abnormalities that might arise.

There are many benefits linked to this procedure:

  • The child will look normal, with only a barely visible scar
  • The child will have low chances of having speech problems
  • The child will no longer have feeding, ear and dental problems
  • This surgery will have a positive impact on self-esteem

The recovery period for both of these procedures is a fairly short one. After each one, the child is kept in the hospital for 2-3 days to be monitored closely. Medicine will be prescribed in order to ensure that the wounds will not get infected. Special ways to breastfeed will be shown to the mother. In case that other problems arise, further surgeries could be required as the child gets older. If he still has speech problems, he will need to attend speech therapy.

Cleft lip and palate surgeries do not hold many risks. In very rare cases, the wounds can get infected or bleed profusely. There are chances that due to the lip surgery, the nose will have a weird shape, so rhinoplasty will be required.

Having a child is the best thing that can happen to a human being. When seeing that the baby has health problems, people will rush to get the best medical care that they can find to make sure that he will grow up safe and healthy. At Marina del Rey Hospital, you can find the dedicated surgeons able to help your child. Call us at 888.600.5600 to schedule an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery

Most children with cleft palate develop in a normal way unless there are problems associated with the cleft.

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Eat properly and take prenatal vitamins before and during pregnancy.

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Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects, which occur if a baby’s lip and mouth do not develop normally in the uterus. These developmental defects are together called “orofacial clefts”.

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Yes, it can become difficult for children to feed properly with a cleft palate, but with specialized bottles and feeding techniques, this problem can be managed.

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