What Is Cleft Palate Repair?
Cleft lip and palate repair in Oak Lawn is an orofacial surgical procedure for repairing splits or openings in the upper lip and the roof of the mouth palate. For several patients, the surgery involves repairing both the upper lip and the roof of the mouth. A cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur in many babies, usually as isolated conditions. However, cleft lips and palates are associated with inherited genetic syndromes in some situations.
Cleft palate and lip repairs are typically done on babies, usually within the first 12 to 18 months of life. The reason is that a surgeon can achieve optimal results with minimal scarring on the face. The earlier the surgery, the better the results. Besides, cleft lips and palates create many functional problems, including eating and breastfeeding difficulties.
Diagnosing Cleft Lip and Palate
It is relatively easy to identify orofacial challenges that your child may have after birth. However, it is possible to diagnose orofacial clefts during pregnancy. Routine ultrasound is especially useful for diagnosing cleft lips. However, some orofacial clefts can only be diagnosed later in life, including submucous cleft palate and bifid uvula.
What Causes Orofacial Clefts?
Medical experts are still curious to find the underlying causes of orofacial clefts, just like you are as a parent. Until now, it is still unclear how the defect occurs in babies. However, since cleft lips and palates are birth defects, medical experts and researchers have identified multiple reasons that could increase the risk of the condition. Some of the factors are:
- Genetics – inherited conditions and syndromes can increase the likelihood of cleft lips and palates.
- Smoking – women who frequently smoke, particularly during pregnancy, have an increased probability of birthing babies with cleft lips and palates.
- Underlying health problems – if you are using medication to treat epilepsy during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, your child may be born with this birth effect.
Why Do You Need Cleft Palate and Lips Surgery?
Repairing a cleft lip and palate is not merely a cosmetic procedure and should not be considered an elective treatment. Instead, patients need corrective surgery for the following reasons:
- To improve speech
- To improve breathing
- To ease feeding – both breastfeeding and eating
- To aid language development
- To improve hearing
Aside from orofacial surgery, our oral surgeons at Family Dental Care – Oak Lawn may recommend additional treatments and therapies to promote general body wellness and development. Some of them include:
- Speech therapy
- Orthodontic dental care
- Ear treatment – to manage infections and improve hearing abilities.
- Psychology and therapy
How Many Surgeries Does It Take to Fix a Cleft Palate?
While as a parent, you would like for the problem to be done in just one procedure, it often takes a series of surgeries to restore a normal-looking appearance and functionality. After a few procedures when young, your child may still require another surgery when they get older.
Technically, the surgical treatment for cleft lip or palate will vary from one person to another. Some factors that may affect the treatment plan include age and the severity of the cleft. Besides, if your child has other birth problems, more surgeries may be necessary to rectify them.
What Happens After Cleft Palate Repair?
The period of surgeries to repair the problems may be a little overwhelming for both children and parents. You will need to make several adjustments to support the healing and recovery of your child in between surgeries. This may include changing up the feeding strategies or getting hearing aids, among other things. Things should get better after the surgeries.
After a series of surgery, you should have a relatively normal appearance. Your mouth and nose should function much better than before the surgery. However, you may need to work on building up your self-esteem. Children might need psychological care to help them maneuver the differences they identify between other kids and themselves.
Aside from that, many patients of successful orofacial cleft surgeries do well in life, leading normal, healthy, and happy lives like everyone else.