Cleft, Lip & Palate

During the early weeks of a child's development within the womb, the right and left sides of the lip normally grow together. One in every 800 children, however, don't develop correctly, leaving them with a separation in the upper lip -- known as the "Cleft Lip." A similar birth defect in the roof of the mouth (or palate) is known as a "Cleft Palate" and is just as common.

• You were born with a cleft lip.
• You were born with a cleft palate.

When correcting a cleft lip, the surgeon will first make an incision on either side of the cleft, from the mouth to the nostril. He will then turn the dark pink portion of the cleft down, and pull the muscle and skin together to close the separation.

Cleft Palates are corrected by simply reconstructing the upper portion of the child's mouth using tissue from each side of the separation. The muscle is joined together which provides enough length in the palate so the child can eat and speak properly.

For a day or two following cleft lip or palate surgery, your child will feel a little bit of soreness and pain which can be easily taken care of with medication. During the short recovery period, your child will not eat or drink much, and elbow restraints may be used to prevent your child from rubbing the repaired area.