Cleft lip and cleft palate are common birth conditions in which there is a small opening in the mouth. This may lead to problems in speaking and eating. The opening can be in the form of splits in the upper lip or on the roof of the mouth (palate) or both. The deformities result when the facial structure of the baby is not fully formed at the delta development stage.
Cleft lip and cleft palate repair is a procedure performed to close the opening and correct the deformity so that the child can speak and eat properly. Surgery helps restore normal functioning but sometimes the child may require additional speech therapy so that they start talking normally.
Cleft lip and cleft palate repair are usually done when the baby is 10 to 12 months old. The procedure is also known as palatoplasty.
The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. The baby is put to sleep as the procedure lasts for about 1 to 2 hours.
During the procedure, the surgeon closes the gap in the lip and the palate with the help of stitches. Most babies stay in the hospital for about 1 to 2 days. After 10 days of the procedure, the stitches are removed or they dissolve on their own, depending on the type of stitches used.
The baby is discharged within 1 to 2 days of the procedure. The procedure may leave a small visible scar, which is generally not noticeable as it is placed along the lip line.
Recovery is quick after the surgery. The baby may have some mucus for the initial few days in the mouth that is filled with blood and may therefore appear pink.
There may be excessive mucus that may come from the nose as the opening between the nose and the mouth is not closed.
The child may snore or they may feel congested for a few weeks. This gets better eventually as the swelling goes down.
For better recovery, the baby must remain well-hydrated. Since appetite may reduce after the surgery for a while, the baby must be fed enough fluids in the weeks following the surgery.
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