A cleft lip is a birth defect causing facial deformity. The “cleft” is a gap – a failure of the right and left sides of the lip to fuse together. It is estimated that this occurs in about 1 of every 700 or 800 babies. While researchers have identified certain genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to the development of a cleft lip, many children develop the condition with no obvious cause. So, rather than focusing on the “how” or the “why,” we can instead focus on “how can we help?”
At Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery for Infants and Children, we provide compassionate care for children with congenital disorders and birth defects. Request a consultation online or call us at (469) 375-3838 to schedule a time to meet with our skilled team. We take a deep personal interest in the overall wellness of the children who visit our practice, caring for their spirit as we heal their bodies.
Evaluation and Treatment
A cleft lip can present in three main ways:
- A unilateral incomplete cleft lip (usually appearing as a small gap or indentation on one side of the lip)
- An unilateral complete cleft lip (a cleft that continues all the way up to the nose, although still localized on one size of the lip)
- A bilateral complete cleft lip (a cleft that extends to both sides of the lip and continues all the way from the lip to the nose)
A cleft lip is often accompanied by a cleft palate. A cleft palate occurs when the two sides of the roof of the mouth do not fuse together. Whether the cleft lip is unilateral, bilateral, complete, or incomplete and whether or not the patient also has a cleft palate will impact the course of treatment. Visit our page about treatment options for more information.
Cleft lip repair surgery is usually performed when a child is between 10 and 12 weeks of age. This may seem early, but will result in the least possible scarring and will prevent emotional trauma that might occur as your child matures. Prior to surgery, your child may need to wear a pre-surgical orthodontic device; this can result in improved surgical outcomes. Several procedures over time may be necessary to achieve optimal results.
A Happy, Healthy Child
Timely, effective treatment for a cleft lip is a necessary step to ensure that your child stays happy and healthy through their formative years. While recovery after surgery to repair cleft lips will require you to be extremely vigilant in caring for your child, these measures are temporary. Remember that, by seeking treatment for your child’s cleft lip, you are doing the best you can to protect their future wellbeing.