Cleft Lip and Palate in Miami
The surgical repair of cleft lip and palate in Miami has both functional and aesthetic goals. People affected by this condition are hindered in breathing, speaking and appearance. Through reconstructive surgery, patients with cleft lip and palate can realize significant improvements in all three of these areas.
Who Should Undergo Cleft Lip and Palate Repair?
Cleft lip is a narrow gap in the skin of the upper lip, which extends to the base of the nose. Clefting occurs on one side or both sides of the mouth. In a cleft palate, the roof of the mouth hasn’t grown together properly, so the gap extends through the front and rear palates.
When a child is born with cleft palate, surgery should always be considered. Doctors need to evaluate factors such as speech development, feeding, and growth, so it’s best to start planning the procedure early.
The Surgical Procedure: How Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Works
Cleft Lip Repair
When the patient is about 3 months old, repair of cleft lip can be performed. The surgery requires 1 – 2 hours. The surgeon marks the incision location on either side of the cleft. The dark colored portion of the cleft is turned down and the tissue is pulled together to close the gap. Sutures are placed along with a temporary nasal stent. The sutures will be removed after about 1 week.
Cleft Palate Repair
When the patient is 9–12 months of age, cleft palate repair can be performed. The surgery typically lasts 2 – 3 hours. Incisions are made on each side of the separation. Flaps of tissue are then elevated and moved from each side toward the center of the mouth. Using layers of tension-free sutures, the muscles and tissue are joined together.
Life After Repair of Cleft Lip and Palate in Miami
After cleft lip repair, bottle fed children may resume feeding immediately. Sutures are removed after about one week. For 2 weeks, the child should not use pacifiers or have access to any pointed edge toys. Some patients may need an elbow immobilizer to prevent injury to the repaired cleft lip and palate.
For about 4 to 6 weeks, there may be noticeable scar contracture, redness and firmness in the treated area. Dr. Maercks will provide specific instructions for proper care and hygiene during the recovery period.
To learn more about cleft lip and palate repair, contact the office of Miami Beach plastic and reconstructive surgeon Rian A. Maercks M.D.