A cleft lip is an incomplete upper lip formation present at birth that appears as a separation on one or both sides. An incomplete formation of either hard or soft parts of the upper palate inside the mouth is the cleft palate, also present at birth. These defects may cause impaired feeding, speech, dental development and hearing, and will require surgical treatment which is provided at ARTISAN by team of experts.
The only permanent remedy for cleft lip and palate repair is plastic surgery. Plastic surgery for cleft lip and palate usually takes place between 10 to 12 weeks of age. It involves fixing the cleft palate gap by surgically narrowing the opening of the palate, and then repairing or rearranging the large muscle groups of the soft palate. This cosmetic procedure, performed on children as young as three, has a very low incidence of complications and can be an effective treatment.
Despite the positive results from cleft lip and palate surgery, the long-term effects on the child may be worrisome. Some children experience more frequent infections, bleeding and scarring than others. Complications include feeding difficulty, drooling, respiratory distress, breathing difficulties, and learning disabilities. Research studies have shown that the long-term affects of cleft lip and palate repair surgeries are similar to those of other dental procedures. However, research studies also indicate that children who undergo the surgeries generally enjoy higher success rates in developing appropriate eating habits and achieving successful oral and facial function.
Although there is no medical research that shows the benefits of a cleft palate surgery beyond the first three years of life, many patients opt to treat their cleft palate later in childhood. Parents and other care providers should carefully consider all of the pros and cons of this option, before deciding if it is in the best interests of a child. If a child suffers from a chronic condition, a surgeon will rarely perform a surgery. Cleft lips and palates occur in approximately ten percent of all children. The long-term effects associated with a traditional open-bite surgical procedure are less severe than those of a laceration of the soft palate.
A Cleft Lip and Palate (CLP) can be corrected by more than one operation. Sometimes, both the upper and lower halves of the palate need repairs. In a partial cleft lip/palate, only the upper half needs to be replaced, whereas a complete reconstruction of the lower half will require both procedures.
In most cases of a cleft palate surgery, long-term effects are minimal. Most patients who have their procedures performed early in life to experience a moderate amount of post-operative pain and discomfort, as well as slight swelling or redness in the area of the operation. Swelling is usually temporary and non-scarring.
Many doctors believe that the potential benefits of a cleft lip and palate repair outweigh the risks and the long-term effects. They are generally recommended for children age three and up. A child may also need to wait to try a surgical procedure if their doctor feels that the soft palate will not develop properly as a result of the surgery. Although there are no studies to confirm this belief, many surgeons feel that it is a reasonable concern.
The potential for long-term effects of a cleft lip and palate repair are not considered very serious. A patient may need to wait for several years to achieve the best outcome. Because most people have an error in placing their fingers, this could cause the formation of calluses. Other possible side effects include bleeding and infections. Children who have their procedures performed early in life may experience less pain and discomfort, but may also experience fewer infections. However, these risks are rare.
Overall, most physicians feel that surgery for cleft lip and palate issues is an appropriate choice when other treatment options are unsuccessful. However, children born with this condition should be monitored closely by their doctors and parents. They must be treated properly and treated well so that they will have a normal life expectancy.