Changing the lives of kids one surgery at a time

When it comes to children, its a very sensitive area and quite a controversial topic, however there are specific cases where a Plastic Surgeon can be of great aide to a child who may be suffering from certain birth defects. Cases where it’s not meant to be nice but necessary.

In this article we are going to be discussing the benefit and even need for Plastic Surgery on a child.

Development of a Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

During early development, the right and left sides of the lip and the roof of the mouth normally grow together. In some cases these sections do not grow and meet together. This causes the child to be born with a separation in their upper lip.

The above mentioned birth defect is what is called a Cleft Lip.

Similarly to the Cleft Lip is the Cleft Palette. In these cases the roof of the mouth, or “palate” the lip and the palate develop separately.

How common is Cleft lip or Cleft Palate?

A cleft lip or a cleft palate can occur in 1 of 800 child births. Commonly this can affect far more than aesthetics. These birth defects can cause many problems for a child.

Cleft lip or palate can create the following issues:

  • Feeding Problems – Especially when breast feeding as the infant cannot create proper suction with its mouth.
  • Dental issues, as often children with a Cleft Lip or Palate will have issues with missing and malformed teeth and commonly require orthodontic treatments. In more serious cases oral surgery is required as the upper jawbone has impaired function causing unnatural placement and positioning of permanent teeth.
  • Speech problems are to be obviously expected as the malformations will pose problematic with the articulation of many words. Corrective surgery greatly improves upon these speech issues.

Details on the surgery:

Surgery is normally performed when the infant is 10-12 weeks old.

A plastic surgeon begins the procedure by making an incision on either side of the cleft from the mouth into the nostril. At this point the outer portion of the cleft is pulled down bringing the muscle and the skin of the lip together to close the separation. This will restore the natural Muscle function and the normal shape of the ???The nostril deformity often associated with cleft lip may also be improved at the time of lip repair, however, in more severe cases at later date further Surgery can be done on the patient.

Cost:

The cost of cleft lip surgery and/or cleft palate repair is estimated to run a minimum of $5,000. However, some children born with clefts require ongoing care and further surgical procedures, again depending on the severity of the defect.

How long is the recovery time and what should I know?

As the patient is a child, often restraints could be used to prevent the patient from touching the sensitive recovering area. In most cases Dressings are used to keep the area sterile and aide in the recovery process.

The Child will be restless for a few days though medication can be used to comfort them. After 5 days the stitches will be ready for removal

The Doctor will advise you on how best to feed your child for the next few weeks.

After surgery the upper lip will appear red and inflamed for the first little while – this is normal and will last for part of the healing process – it does subside after some time leaving little to no visible scarring.