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Cleft Lip and Palate
cleft lip and palate Photo
Before & After
How many surgeries is average to correct the palate and make it not-so-noticeable?
That varies from patient to patient. At the minimum, one surgery is needed to repair the lip and a separate surgery is needed to repair the palate. However, several surgeries are needed to make the lip appear as normal as possible. And sometimes additional surgeries involving the palate are needed to improve speech.
Does a cleft palate always result in a cleft lip?
No. About 50 percent of children with clefts have clefts that involve the lip and palate. Another 25 percent have clefts that involve only the lip and the remaining 25 percent have clefts that only affect the palate.
What causes cleft palates?
We believe that there are genetic causes in some children, we believe that there are environmental causes in other children, and in many children we suspect there is an interaction between genetics and environment. And by environment I mean the environment in which the baby develops in-utero, and the environment in which the mother lives. We know that exposure to alcohol abuse predisposes the baby in the womb to birth defects that may include cleft palate. That disorder is called fetal alcohol syndrome. In children with Pierre Robin Sequence, clefts are a result of an underdeveloped mandible, which is the bone that makes up the chin. Pierre Robin Sequence is a special case where clefts are concerned.
What is the normal recovery time after surgery?
Usually babies require several days of close monitoring after surgery. Recovery usually requires several weeks of special care. During those weeks, the first few days after surgery, movement of the child’s hands may be restricted so they don’t put their fingers in their mouths and disrupt the surgical repair.
What kind of follow up is needed after surgery?
After surgery, it is really important for the family to follow up with the cleft surgeon to ensure that the healing process is progressing the way it should. There is always a risk of infection and breakdown of sutures at the surgical site, and so it is very important that the family stay in close contact with the surgeon post-operatively.