Cleft lip and palate surgeries provide some of the most dramatic results of any surgical procedure. These life-changing surgeries are typically performed on children. In places where healthcare is not available, the procedure may be preformed on patients at a later time. This surgical change completely transforms the affected face.
Cleft lip and cleft palate deformities occur when the sides of the lip or mouth do not connect fully. This occurs during pregnancy, and is immediately noticeably after delivery. These defects occur about once in every 800 births. They may occur individually or at the same time, in various severities.
FAQ About Cleft Lip and Palate Surgeries
What are the steps of the cleft lip and palate procedures?
The first step is a complete examination of the affected facial areas. Dr. Feledy often involves other specialists in the consultation to ensure the best results. General anesthetic is applied to help guarantee comfort during the procedure. For cleft lip repair, incisions are made along each edge of the cleft lip. The underlying lip muscles are stretched and sutured together. Tissue layers are sutured together as well to completely cover the repair.
Cleft palate procedures are performed similarly to the cleft lip surgery. An incision is made along each edge of the cleft palate separation. The tissue of the palate is pulled outward from within the incision. This tissue is joined with sutures. The outer layers of skin are closed together using dissolvable sutures. In some cases, rhinoplasty work may be necessary to reconstruct the face.
Who is an ideal candidate for cleft lip and palate surgery?
Cleft surgeries are generally performed soon after delivery. The typical surgical timeline is 2-3 months after delivery for a healthy baby. Some complications or other defects may impact this schedule. Older patients who were unable to receive the surgery during infancy may also be excellent candidates.
What happens after the procedure?
The surgical sites are often covered with bandages, and drains may be used. Some infants may require restraints to prevent accidental damage until the area has heeled. Medications may be given to minimize any discomfort during healing. Eating and drinking are often reduced or done through an IV.
Often the external sutures may be removed after a week. Stitches in the mouth will typically dissolve on their own. Incisions should fade over the next year, but may always remain slightly visible. In some cases, a small ventilation tube is put in the ear. This tube helps prevent future ear infections.
Are there any side effects?
There is a possibility of some side effects, including discomfort, swelling and bruising. Dr. Feledy will fully discuss all possible complications with you during the consultation.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Feledy to Learn More
Dr. Feledy maintains offices in Stafford, VA and Chevy Chase, MD. For more information about his cleft lip or palate procedures, or to schedule a personal consultation at either location, contact Dr. Feledy's office at 301-654-5666 or 540-891-0040.