A cleft lip is an abnormal opening in the middle of the upper lip. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth (palate).
Cleft lip repair and cleft palate repair are indicated for:
- repair of physical deformity
- nursing, feeding, or speech problems resulting from cleft lip or palate
While the baby is anesthetized and asleep (general anesthesia), the tissues around the defect are trimmed and sewn together with several layers of stitches (absorbable sutures). The skin is sewn together with very small, fine stitches (sutures) to make the scar as small as possible. In cleft palate repair, tissue from the back of the mouth (pharynx) may be taken to add tissue to the deficient soft palate (this is called a pharyngeal flap). Occasionally more than one surgery is required for complete palate closure.
Most babies heal without complications. The cosmetic result often depends on the severity of the deformity and is usually quite good.
Review Date: 5/12/2009
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.