Cleft Lip Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis)

Correction of the upper lip or roof of the mouth

By Kai Wade, Director of Communications & Social MediaLast modified: September 21, 2011

Cleft Lip Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis)

Cleft Lip/Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis)

What is Cleft Lip/Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis)?

Cleft lip and palate is a fragmented breach in the upper lip or roof of the mouth. It happens when a newborn's lip and roof of mouth don't intersect properly during pregnancy.

Clefts can be repaired through a dedicated plastic surgery technique identified as cheiloschisis channeling your child’s ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe, and restoring a more normal appearance and function.

When Should I Prepare My Child for Cleft Lip/Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis)

The effectiveness and time of the cleft lip/palate surgery depends on the each individual circumstance. Solely cleft lip corrections are primarily executed when a child is at 10 weeks of age and at least over 10 pounds or has regular blood count of at least 10 and uniquely cleft palate repairs are generally performed when a child is 9 to 18 months in age.

Cleft Lip/Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis) Procedure

Medications are ordered for your child’s comfort during the procedure. The aim of cleft lip surgery is to close the parting in the lip and to arrange for a normal functioning, structured and firmly appeared upper lip. Incisions are made on either side of the cleft to produce flaps of tissue that are drawn together and sutured to eliminate the cleft.

The cleft palates repair technique is somewhat more of a challenge as meticulous repositioning of tissue and muscles to close the cleft and restructure the roof region are sought out. The restoration is then sutured shut, near the midline of the roof of the mouth, providing ample distance of the palate to reserve normal feeding and speech growth, and continued growth through the stages of everyday life.

Side Effects and Risks of Cleft Lip/Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis)

The decision to have cleft lift/palate surgery is extremely personal and your plastic surgeon will explain the benefits, goals and potential risks or complications. Risks or potential complications Includes bleeding, infection, irregular healing, uncomfortable pulling of tissue glands, and allergic reactions.

Problems Related to Cleft Lip/Palate Surgery (Cheiloschisis)

Feeding- Babies with a cleft lip/palate may struggle breastfeeding because they cannot create suction in their mouths because of too much air intake at feeding or bringing up milk through their noses. Babies who find it challenging to become nourished gain weight slowly and may require special formula.

Speech- Children with cleft lip/palate develop speech normally. Conversely, if your child has had surgery to repair a cleft, he or she may find it challenging to pronounce sounds clearly. Children with clefts often cultivate a nasal-sounding speech.

Hearing- Children with cleft lip/palate often develop hearing problems. This is because children with a cleft are likely to progress glue ear, a circumstance in which tacky fluid builds up in arrear to the eardrum. As a shared technique to repair a cleft lip/palate, surgeons often put a tiny plastic tube or grommet into the eardrum so that the fluid can drain out.

Find a  Cleft Lip Palate Surgeon near you.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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