Using Reconstructive Surgery to Correct a Cleft Lip
A cleft lip is a common birth condition that occurs in the form of a split in the lip. Cleft lips vary in appearance; some exist as a notch on the lip and others extend to the gum and palate regions. Thanks to advancements in the field of reconstructive surgery, Dr. Bradley can bring a natural smile to your baby’s face with cleft-lip repair.
What Is a Cleft Lip?
A cleft lift can be a severe drawback in the life of your child. It is not just a cosmetic concern – it can also impair a number of actions and skills, including language skills.
Depending upon the depth of the notch, a baby may face trouble sucking and generating sounds. Cleft lips may lead to dental and ear problems, and if left unattended, the child may struggle emotionally and functionally to cope with the condition.
The aim of cleft-lip repair surgery is to improve appearance and functionality. During surgery, the two portions of the lip are fused using a special technique. The resulting scar on the lip fades with time.
When to Get Reconstructive Surgery for a Cleft Lip
It is suggested that reconstructive surgery is performed in the first year of the child’s life. It is advantageous to perform the surgery at this early age, when the baby’s memory of the procedure is quickly erased. Moreover, the surrounding tissues around the cleft lip are prevented from further abnormal development.
When the surgery is done before age three, the child need not suffer any difficulty in development of language skills. It also helps the child develop healthy nutritional practices.
The same surgery is recommended for adults with a cleft lip, although recovery and adaption to normal life is more complex as compared to when it is performed on a baby.
How Is the Operation Performed?
Cleft-lip reconstruction can take up to three hours. At the start of the procedure, the baby is given general anesthesia. You may be allowed into the anesthetic chamber occasionally until the anesthesia has taken effect.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, a tube for breathing is inserted into the airway. An IV is inserted in the foot for intravenous fluid supply. During the procedure, the reconstructed lip is stitched together, and if the nose is involved, it is held in place with a piece of foam.
After Cleft-Lip Reconstruction
As it is important that your child refrains from touching the surgical site during the recovery process, arm restraints such as splits or pads are placed on the child’s arms. Medications are prescribed to lessen pain and swelling. You must protect your child from direct sunlight for some time.
The stitches are removed after one week during a follow-up appointment. The scars of a cleft lip blend with adjoining tissues and fade with time.
Contact Us to Fix a Cleft Lip
Reconstruction surgery aims to improve the quality of your child’s life. They will be able to breathe, eat, and speak more easily in the years to come. Secondary procedures may be advised in some cases.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact our office today to schedule an informative consultation with double-board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. James Bradley. Dr. Bradley is a well-respected medical professional who will be available to help you reach your aesthetic goals.