Cleft Lip & Palate

A cleft lip and/or palate (roof of mouth) occurs when the sides of the lip and/or palate do not come together during the formation of the baby’s head and neck early in pregnancy. This incomplete development usually leaves an opening in these areas.

A cleft can occur in about one in 600 newborn babies. Each cleft is unique in its appearance and severity. The cleft can affect the lip alone, palate alone, or both the lip and palate. The cleft can occur on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral) of the lip and/or palate. A cleft in the palate can affect the soft palate alone, hard palate alone, or both the soft and hard palates. A cleft can affect the baby’s feeding, hearing, speech, and nose.

How long will the procedure take?

A cleft lip is usually repaired in the first months of your child's life. A cleft palate is usually repaired in the first year of life. Each procedure usually takes about one and a half to two hours.

Where will the incisions be?

The incisions of the lip repair are located on the upper lip and are hidden around the base of the nose. The incisions of the palate surgery will be along the roof of the mouth.

What will recovery be like?

Both types of surgical repair will require your child to stay at least one night in the hospital to be sure that they are able to eat and drink normally before going home. Dr. Aboutanos will be sure that you are comfortable with all instructions before you leave the hospital.

What else should I know about this procedure?

As a cleft and craniofacial specialist, Dr. Aboutanos is qualified and ready to care for your child as your child grows and develops. She is a member of the accredited Cleft and Craniofacial Team at St. Mary’s Hospital, and she will help coordinate your child's care with other specialists in a multi-disciplinary manner.