A cleft lip occurs early in pregnancy while the baby is developing. A cleft lip is the separation of the two sides of the upper lip. The gap can vary in size and may include the upper jaw and the upper gum. In more severe cases, the cleft lip may extend into the nasal region. A cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth. It is possible to have a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both.
How Surgery Heals a Cleft Lip
Surgery for a cleft lip usually occurs around 3 months of age or possibly earlier. The surgery takes place under general anaesthetic in a hospital setting. An incision is typically made on each side of the gap to create several flaps of tissue. These flaps are stitched together to close the gap in such a way that a skilled surgeon will make the scar as unobtrusive as possible. The procedure closes the separation, restores muscle function, and provides a normal shape in the mouth. If the gap is very large, or extends into the nasal region, the child may require procedures to reduce the gap or improve the shape of the nostrils before the cleft is closed.
Other Skills That Could Be needed To Heal a Cleft Lip
The skills of several professionals may be needed to successfully treat all the problems arising from a cleft lip. A gap in the baby's lip will make it difficult for the baby to suck, and therefore feed, making the skills of a feeding specialist necessary. As the baby grows into a toddler, a speech therapist may be needed to ensure that they learn to speak properly. Specialists may be needed to attend the psychological development of the child and ensure their self-esteem remains intact.
A cleft lip can be a highly inconvenient condition for a child if left untreated but we have had a lot of success utilising oral surgery to help children overcome this deformity to go on to lead completely normal, healthy and happy lives. Contact our office today to find out more.