Cleft lip and/or palate is the most common type of congenital birth defect. Approximately one in 750 newborns is born with either combined cleft lip and palate or cleft palate alone. While the exact cause of this birth defect is unknown, there is typically a family history in many children who are born with cleft lip and palate. Not only is this a cosmetic concern for many parents, but this problem must be corrected with surgery so that your child will not develop problems with hearing and speech.
Craniofacial plastic surgery is necessary to avoid problems with speech, hearing, and facial development. This surgery is typically performed before the age of 18 months so that the child can develop speech normally. Because this issue is often associated with ear infections and other hearing issues, it’s essential that it be corrected to avoid speech delays.
The type and extent of craniofacial plastic surgery largely depends on the type and extent of the cleft. Often, children will first undergo surgery within the first six months of life to repair the exterior of the lip and nose, followed by palate repair in the first half of the second year of life and repair of the gum line cleft between 7 and 9 years of age. Some children need more extensive surgeries, such as jaw repair and rhinoplasty later in life. Others who just have a cleft palate and not a cleft lip may only need one surgery.
These procedures are typically done under general anesthesia, and a short hospital stay is sometimes required. Not only do the surgeons strive to create a palate that works for optimal speech, but also to create a pleasing, natural appearance for the lip and nose area.
If your child is born with a cleft lip, our team – led by Dr. Steven Warnock – can help determine the best treatment options for your needs. We’ll work with you and your child to ensure individualized care. We offer treatments and procedures that are safe and comfortable – even for our youngest patients.
Contact Dr. Steven Warnock’s office today to schedule your consultation. After meeting with you and your child, we’ll go over all of the details of surgery and can answer any questions you may have. We understand that this is a difficult time, and we will work to put you at ease and make sure your family is completely comfortable.