Cleft lip is a congenital defect that affects the upper lip and/or palate. Cleft lip surgery is a surgery that attempts to repair these birth defects.
A cleft lip, which is one of the most common birth defects treated in oral maxillofacial surgery, can simply be a small cleft in the lip. But, it can also be a complete cleft that reaches the base of the nose, affecting the appearance of the face. This, along with a cleft palate, can cause certain problems related to eating and speaking.
Cleft lip surgery
Surgery to treat cleft lip is usually performed in infancy, when the child is between 6 weeks and 9 months of age. However, in rare cases it can be performed in adolescence or even adulthood.
Cleft lip surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Its main objective is to restore the anatomical and functional continuity of the lip and/or palate, selecting the most appropriate surgical technique in each case.
Post-operative cleft lip surgery
After 24 or 48 hours after surgery, the patient is discharged from the hospital. A series of local wound dressings should be performed until the stitches are removed, which will be done 5 days after the operation.
On some occasions, the patient may need a surgical revision during adolescence to improve the aesthetics of the lip and nose, as well as a continuous follow-up with speech therapists and orthodontists once the palate has also been repaired.
Unilateral cleft lip: preoperative (left) and postoperative (right).
Bilateral cleft lip: preoperative (left) and postoperative (right).