Cleft lip and palate

Cleft lip and/or palate is one of the most commonly occurring congenital anomalies. Although this condition is fairly common, affecting 1 in every 700 newborn babies, the causative factors behind it have yet to be completely determined. Children born with cleft deformities are evaluated, followed and treated by the team at the UF Craniofacial Center.

Cleft lip

Cleft lip may be unilateral or bilateral. Repair is generally done at age 10 to 12 weeks, although optimum timing of repairs may differ from child to child. The repair of the cleft lip is done in the operating room under general anesthesia. The lip repair includes reconstruction of the muscle structure of the upper lip and steps to improve the deformity of the nose. After surgery there will be sutures (stitches) in your child’s lip. These sutures usually do not require removal. Silicone rubber tubes (stents) may be used in the nose to help correct the deformed nostril, and elbow restraints may be used temporarily.

Wound care:

The suture line should be cleaned frequently to prevent crust formation and infection. You may use a cotton-tipped applicator and half-strength hydrogen peroxide. The doctor may prescribe an ointment for you to put over the incision and sutures.

Cleft palate

The repair of the cleft palate is usually done at six to twelve months of age. More than one operation may be necessary to close the cleft palate. The cleft palate operation is done under general anesthesia in the operating room. At UF, most children will undergo a procedure called Furlow palatoplasty. The usual hospital stay after surgery is two days. After surgery, the child may resume feeding as soon as he or she can tolerate it.

For more information about cleft lip and palate repair of these conditions, visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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