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About this procedure

The cleft lip and cleft palate are two of the more common developmental deformities seen in the human newborn. Fortunately, advanced surgical techniques are available to correct these deformities.

The causes of cleft lip and cleft palate deformities are due to a failure of the lips or palate to fuse during a stage of embryonic development. The human embryo has a number of clefts that normally fuse and come together as the embryo/fetus develops. When this fusing does not occur, the result is a cleft lip or cleft palate, which may vary in severity. While the cause of the deformity can be genetic, generally it is developmental in origin.

A child born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both, is generally of normal intelligence, and can anticipate a long and healthy life.

If properly treated surgically, the child can achieve an excellent appearance, normal breathing, and good speech. Depending on the severity of the deformity, one can anticipate a number of operations throughout the patient’s lifetime.

A cleft on one side, which does not extend up into the nostril, and is not associated with a cleft palate, can be closed in a single stage.

A complete cleft, or bilateral cleft, which involves the nostril and a cleft palate, which may be associated with a protruding segment of the mouth, can be repaired with better overall results by approaching the deformity through a few surgical stages.

Closure of the lip and palate is essential for oral continence and good speech. Careful attention is also made for pediatric orthodontia and speech therapy, as necessary.

Children with cleft lips frequently develop an associated nasal deformity. The cleft lip nasal deformity generally shows as an under-projected nose with flaring nostrils. These are corrected by techniques using autogenous cartilage grafts. Operations on the nose are timed according to age and appropriateness.

At Fairbanks Plastic Surgery Center, our plastic surgeons have extensive experience in cleft lip repair and cleft palate repair; successfully treating children with excellent results in both appearance and speech.


Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Before and After

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Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip Before and After

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Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Before and After

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Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip Before and After

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Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Before and After

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Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip Before and After

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Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Before and After

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Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip Before and After

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*All before and after photos are real patients of Fairbanks Plastic Surgery. Identifiable images are used with patient permission.