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UCDHS Cleft Program


What are Cleft Lip & Palate?

Causes of Cleft Lip & Palate

Addressing Concerns

Corrective Surgery

Your Child's Long Term Care

Additional Treatment

More Information






cleft lip, cleft palate

Corrective Surgery

During the first two weeks of your baby’s life, you should make an appointment to see the cleft surgeon, a doctor who specializes in reconstructive surgery and repair of the cleft lip and palate. He or she will discuss all the details of the corrective surgery wit your. If your baby has a unilateral cleft lip (on one side), it is normally repaired in the hospital when the child is around three months old. A bilateral cleft involving both sides may require a secondary surgery, which is done several months later.

Prior to surgery, you will have the opportunity to tour the pediatric area and ask any questions relating to the procedure to procedures planned. In this way, your anxiety over your baby’s hospitalization may be reduced, and you will be able to take a more supportive role I your child’s postsurgical care.

Corrective lip surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes around two or three hours. Typically your baby will only remain in the hospital overnight. The surgeon and the nursing team will instruct you on how to care for your child’s lip at home after surgery. The scar may remain red for up to one year following the procedure.

A cleft palate is repaired when your child is between 9 and 18 months of age. Children must be able to drink from a cup before the palate repair, since using a nipple after surgery may damage the stitches. The length of the hospital stay is normally two to four days. Children are allowed to go home when they begin to feel comfortable and are able to drink well.

The surgeon and nursing staff help your prepare your child for the surgery and hospital stay. They will also provide you with detailed instructions for your child’s recovery period. Typically, only one surgery is required to correct the cleft. However, in some cases, additional is required to correct the cleft. However, in some cases, additional surgeries may be needed. When a surgical repair for a cleft is completed, your child’s well-being is important. It is important to protect the repaired tissue, promote healing and provide good nutrition. Medication is available to relieve pain and maximize comfort. If you have any questions, please ask the nursing staff or your physician before your child is discharged from the hospital.

To schedule a consulation, please call (916) 734-2347

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