Cleft lip and cleft palate repair are surgeries of the lip and the roof of the mouth. These repairs are two separate surgeries that are sometimes done together.

Surgery is usually done at a young age. Cleft lip repairs occurs most often at age 3-6 months. Cleft palate repairs occurs most often at age 9-18 months

Infant With Cleft Lip
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These surgeries are done to repair birth defects called cleft lip and cleft palate. A cleft lip is an open gap in the upper lip. A cleft palate is an open gap in the roof of the mouth. If left untreated, the child can have many complications, such as:

  • Ear infections—fluid is not able to drain properly from the ear
  • Hearing impairment
  • Speech problems
  • Dental problems such as missing or malformed teeth
  • Feeding difficulties—A baby with a cleft lip may have a hard time sucking. A cleft palate can cause milk or formula to enter the nasal cavity.

The goals of cleft lip repair are to:

  • Close the separation in the lip.
  • Create a curve in the middle part of the upper lip.
  • Create the right amount of distance between the upper lip and the nose.
  • Allow the lips to close with a tight seal.

The goal of cleft palate repair is to have the palate area function normally. This includes proper development of the teeth and jaw, as well as speech.

Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if any of the following occurs in your child:

  • Signs of dehydration —little or no urination, sunken soft spot on head in babies, no tears when crying, dry and cracked lips
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Blue or gray skin color
  • Not waking up or not interacting

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.