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Cleft Lip and Palate

A cleft lip (or cheiloschisis) is an incomplete formation of the upper lift, and a cleft palate (or palatoschisis), the incomplete formation of the roof of the mouth, can occur separately or together. They occur very early on during prenatal development. Cleft lip and cleft palate repair surgery corrects the effects of the abnormal development, and restores function in the ability to eat, speak, hear, breathe, and results in a more normal appearance.

Cleft lips and cleft palates affect many functions and, therefore, require a team of professionals to achieve the best possible outcomes for your child (or you as an adult patient.) LSU Health Sciences Center has the medical specialists needed for this multi-disciplinary approach that spans from infancy through early adulthood.

Your LSU Plastic Surgeon performs the initial surgery by one year of age. The first surgery is to repair the palate, and creates a functional palate, reduces the chances fluid will develop in the middle ears, and assists in the proper development of teeth and facial bones.

Another cleft palate surgery is a bone graft performed around age eight. This forms a stable upper gum line to support permanent teeth, and stabilizes the upper jaw. Further surgeries to help improve speech are required in approximately 20% of children with a cleft palate.

Additional surgeries may be recommended to improve the appearance of the lip and nose, close openings between the mouth and nose, help breathing, and stabilize and realign the jaw. Final revisions of scars resulting from the previous surgeries will probably not be performed until adolescence, to ensure a more fully developed facial structure.


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