Cleft lip, the incomplete formation of the upper lip, and cleft palate, a malformation in the roof of the mouth, are the most common birth defects in North America. Doctor Steven Warnock is a board certified craniofacial surgeon with extensive training in pediatric cleft lip and palate repair.
Contact us today at our Draper, Utah location to schedule a consultation and find out how cleft lip and palate repair surgery can help your child.
What is Cleft Lip and Palate Repair Surgery?
Cleft lip and palate occurs early on in the womb when the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth do not form properly and cause a separation or cleft. These birth defects can be present either together or separately in varying degrees of severity and can affect one or both sides of the face.
When children are born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate, not only is their appearance altered, but their mouth areas also do not function properly, which can affect behaviors such as feeding, speaking and breathing if left untreated.
Most cases of cleft lip and palate are treatable through specialized plastic surgery that completely restores normal appearance and function to the mouth. Cleft lip and palate repair surgery is the most effective way to treat these defects, and the procedure is safe for children as well as infants.
What Happens To My Child During Surgery?
Before surgery begins, anesthetic will be administered to make your child comfortable. During cleft lip surgery, incisions are made on either side of the cleft in order to create flaps of tissue. These are stitched together, closing the separation and restoring function.
For palate repair, the roof of the mouth is rebuilt by carefully repositioning tissue and muscles. Incisions are made on either side of the cleft, and a flap technique is used to close the gap by restructuring the hard and soft components of the palate. The roof of the mouth is then precisely stitched to allow enough movement for normal feeding and speech development throughout life.
Are the Results Permanent?
Your child’s improved lip and mouth will grow with them for awhile, but secondary surgery may be required during adolescence as your child’s body continues to develop. Scarring is usually located within the normal contours of the lip and face and will fade over time, but may remain permanently visible.
What is Recovery Like?
After your child’s surgery, Dr. Warnock will provide you with instructions on how to properly care for incision sites as well as how to identify signs of infection. Medication will be prescribed to control any pain or discomfort your child may experience afterward, and healing may take several weeks.
You may be advised to use precautions while your child is in the sun, as prolonged exposure can result in irregular scarring.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Warnock and get your child’s development back on track with cleft lip and palate repair surgery.