Cleft lip and cleft palate are congential deformities, or birth defects, that babies develop while they are still in utero. With the cleft lip deformity, the right and left sides of the upper lip grow into the roof of the mouth, creating a separation between each side of the upper lip that can extend all the way to the nose. The cleft palate deformity causes a separation in the roof of the mouth. Babies may be born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both, and facial reconstructive surgery is needed to correct these deformities.
Who is a Candidate for Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery?
Cleft lip and palate surgery may be performed on adults, children and infants who experience one or both of these facial deformities. Cleft lip surgery is appropriate for infants as young as 10 weeks, whereas cleft palate surgery may not be appropriate until an infant is at least 9-18 months. Correcting a cleft lip or cleft palate early on can prevent the development of speech and hearing problems, as well as psychological issues that may arise from the difficulties of coping with cleft lip and cleft palate deformities.
How Are Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Performed?
For cleft lip reconstruction, Dr. Wittpenn will make an incision on each side of the cleft from the upper lip to the nostril, and then stitch the separation closed. A cleft palate is repaired much the same way except the incisions are made along each side of the separation in the palate instead of the lip. These procedures can not only improve a patient’s physical appearance but also solve functional muscle problems.
It may be difficult for your child to eat or drink in the weeks following cleft lip and palate repair, and Dr. Wittpenn will advise you regarding post-op care for children. In general, recovery after cleft lip and palate repair takes 1-2 weeks, and scars will continue to fade over the next several months.
Contact New Horizons Plastic Surgery
Contact New Horizons Plastic Surgery at (936) 564-3744 if you or your child needs correction of a cleft lip and/or cleft palate deformity. Dr. Gregory Wittpenn is an expert Nacogdoches reconstructive surgeon serving patients throughout eastern Texas and western Louisiana, including patients from Huntsville, Longview, Lufkin, Tyler and Shreveport.