Cleft lip/palate repair

Cleft lip/palate repair

The most common birth defects, cleft lip and cleft palate are openings or splits in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate) or both. Cleft lip and cleft palate result when developing facial structures don't close completely during foetal development. Both the conditions can be corrected surgically that can help restore normal function and achieve a more normal appearance with minimal scarring.

How is it performed?

  • Before the start of the surgery, general anaesthesia is administered to the child.
  • To repair a cleft lip, incisions are made on either side of the cleft to create flaps of skin, muscle and intraoral tissue.
  • These are then drawn together and stitched to close the cleft and recreate the anatomy of the upper and nose.
  • The repair of a cleft palate requires careful repositioning of tissue and muscles to close the cleft and rebuild the roof of the mouth. Incisions are made on either side of the cleft and specialised flap techniques are used to reposition the tissues of the hard and soft palate.
  • The repair is then stitched closed, generally along the midline of the roof of the mouth, providing enough length of the palate to allow for normal feeding, speech development and continued growth throughout life.
  • Once the cleft lip and/or cleft palate have been repaired, the incisions can be closed with removable or absorbable sutures.
  • Over time, the scars fade and are often barely visible.

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