Cleft lip and cleft palate are two of the most common congenital birth defects in the United States. Presenting either singly or together, cleft lip and palate occur when the lip and/or the roof of the mouth fail to grow properly when a baby is in utero. Though the exact causes are unclear, they may be the result of genetic or environmental factors.
At his Northern Mississippi plastic surgery practice, Dr. Dan Shell routinely performs reconstructive surgery on people with cleft lip and/or palate. Through specialized techniques, Dr. Shell is able to improve the patient’s quality of life and overall aesthetic appearance dramatically.
Who Is the Right Candidate for Cleft Lip and Palate Repair?
Almost anyone with a cleft lip or palate may be considered for reconstructive surgery. If left untreated, children may experience one or more of the following problems:
- Difficulty breathing
- Delays in speech development
- Poor eating habits due to difficulty eating
- Problems breastfeeding
Cleft lip and palate may also increase the risk of colds, cavities and ear infections. During the consultation process with Dr. Shell, he will be able to determine if and when cleft lip and palate repair is right for your son or daughter.
There are numerous factors to consider before committing to any surgical procedure. Below is a list of frequently asked questions associated with cleft lip and palate repair:
What happens during cleft lip and palate repair?
Cleft lip and palate repair are typically performed under general anesthesia and may take one to three hours to complete. Cleft lip repair will require incisions made on each side of the lip. The tissue from both sides will then be drawn together and secured with sutures. During cleft palate repair, incisions will be made inside of the mouth. The tissue flaps on each side of the mouth will be pulled together and reoriented to rebuild the roof of the mouth. The muscle and tissue will then be secured with sutures.
What is the recovery process like?
Following surgery, Dr. Shell will provide you with specific aftercare and hygiene instructions. It is likely that the mouth area will be swollen for several days. Sutures will be removed within a week. Children should be restricted from toys that may cause unintentional injury to the treated area for several weeks.
How old do patients have to be before cleft lip and palate repair?
The timing of cleft repairs depends on your child’s individual circumstances, but early intervention is essential for his or her health and well-being. For cleft lip repair, children can be as young as three months of age, while candidates for cleft palate repair should ideally be nine to twelve months old. Though less common, adults can also undergo cleft lip and palate repair.
Are there any risks associated with cleft lip and palate repair?
As with any surgical procedure, cleft lip and palate reconstruction do present a degree of risk. Prior to surgery, Dr. Shell will be available to discuss all potential risks in depth. Some of the potential risks may include adverse reactions to anesthesia, infection or breathing problems.
Why should I choose Dr. Shell for cleft lip and palate repair?
During your consultation, Dr. Shell will listen carefully to your concerns, ensuring that all treatments are customized to meet your goals. He uses the latest technology in a comfortable and confidential setting. Dr. Shell is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. He is also a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Schedule Your Consultation
Dr. Dan Shell is a board certified plastic surgeon with years of experience performing cleft lip and palate repair. If you are considering cleft lip or palate repair, he would be happy to sit down with you and explain the process in detail. His practice serves Northern Mississippi. Contact our plastic surgery office in Oxford, MS by calling 662-236-6465 to set up a consultation today.