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Cleft lip and palate repair
Definition Surgery to repair birth defects of the upper lip and roof of the mouth. 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 is usually done within 6 to 12 weeks of age. Cleft palate repair is generally postponed until later to take advantage of the palatal changes that occur with normal growth. Most surgeons repair a cleft palate between 9 months to 1 year before the child develops faulty speech habits.
Alternative Names 
Description 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 roof of the mouth may be shifted over to cover the deficient soft palate. Occasionally more than one surgery is required for complete palate closure.
Indications 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
    Risks Risks for anesthesia are:
  • reactions to medications
  • breathing problems
  • Risks for surgery are:
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • Expectations after surgery Most babies heal without complications. The cosmetic result often depends on the severity of the deformity and is usually quite good.
    Convalescence The average hospital stay is 5 to 7 days. Complete recovery may take up to 4 weeks. Some children continue to have speech defects after the surgery because of muscle problems in the palate. Speech therapy is then required.

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