Cleft Lip Repair in San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland, and Walnut Creek
Dr. Moulton-Barrett performs pediatric plastic surgery in Oakland, San Francisco and the Bay Area, including cleft lip repair surgeries.
What is a cleft lip?
A cleft lip, or cheiloschisis, is a birth defect that occurs when the upper lip is not fully formed. It may be a small notch in the upper lip or a complete split that goes all the way to the base of the nose. A cleft lip may appear alone or in conjunction with a cleft palate.
A cleft lip may cause problems with nursing, feeding, or speech.
Understanding Cleft Lip Repair Surgery
A cleft lip repair is usually done when the child is 2 to 3 months old. Before surgery, you will meet with specialists to help ensure your child is healthy and gaining any necessary weight. Your doctor will also discuss anesthesia options with you.
During cleft lip repair surgery, incisions are made on either side of the cleft. This creates flaps of tissue that can be stitched together to close the opening of the cleft. Once the cleft is repaired, your surgeon may also construct a cupid’s bow, the curve at the center of the lip. These repairs are generally made with small, absorbable stitches that will not need to be removed at a later date.
After surgery, your child may spend 1 to 3 days in the hospital for recovery. You will be taught how to properly care for the surgical site and given instructions for your child’s diet, which will likely include only liquids until the wound heals completely.
As with any surgery, there are potential risks associated with cleft lip repair. These risks may include:
- Breathing problems associated with anesthesia
- Facial bones grow incorrectly
- Abnormal connection between mouth and nose
Although these complications are rare, you should speak with your doctor about your child’s specific risks and what you can do before and after surgery to limit the risk of complications.
After Cleft Lip Repair
In most cases, your child will heal and continue to develop normally. The specific results will depend, in large part, on how serious the defect was before surgery. Some children may require additional surgery to repair scarring caused by the cleft lip repair.
Your child may also have speech problems after surgery, which can often be addressed through speech therapy.
Visit our Cleft Lip Surgery Gallery for more before and after cleft lip images »