Cosmetic Surgery for a Cleft Lip and Palate
One of the most saddening congenital deformities affecting children all over the world is
the clef lip and palate. Thanks to modern technology, we can now fix these problems
with cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, but in third world countries, many children still
go without this kind of help. A cleft is a separation in the body’s natural structure, and is
caused on the face during gestation. A cleft lip and palate occur in about one in 600 to
800 births and are also called hare lip.
There are three different types of cleft lip. The unilateral incomplete cleft lip looks like a
dent in the upper lip that does not reach the nose. It is also sometimes called a partial or
incomplete cleft. If the dent reaches one nostril the cleft lip is known as a unilateral
complete cleft. If it reaches to both nostrils, it is known as a bilateral complete cleft lip. If
this does not extend into the mouth, cosmetic surgery is what is needed to fix the
A cleft palate is a bit more of a serious condition. In this case, the two plates that form the
skill in the hard palate, or roof of the mouth, do not completely join. Again, there are
three kinds of cleft palates. The incomplete cleft palate is only a problem within the
mouth and does not reach the nose. The complete lip and palate clefs reach the nostrils
and are either unilateral (reaching one nostril) or bilateral (both nostrils). If this occurs, a
combination of surgeries is needed to fix the problem. Usually, surgery can be done
immediately after birth, but most doctors prefer to wait until the baby is ten weeks old so
that he or she has time to recover from the birthing process itself.
Cleft lips and palates form due to both genetic and environmental factors. They are most
prevalent in Asian, Latino, and Native American races, but can affect any child. Cosmetic
surgery can really help these babies. Not only will it form a more normal-looking face,
but it will also help with the various speech problems a child will have if trying to learn
to speak with a cleft lip and palate.
If your baby has a clef lip or palate, you should talk to your doctor about the options
available to you. In most cases, this surgery can be covered by your medical insurance,
and it is definitely a good idea to help your child. Many successful people were born with
cleft lips and palates, so surgery can really help.