Lexington, KY 40536-0293
Louisville, KY 40202
Lexington, KY 40502
Lexington, Kentucky, US 40536-0284
Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common birth defects in the United States. The defect occurs when either the lip or the palate (roof of the mouth), or both, do not join together properly during development. With the use of prenatal screening such as ultrasounds, this can frequently be recognized and diagnosed before birth.
Cleft lip and palate are corrected at separate times, and this can vary from surgeon to surgeon. At UK, we aim to fix the lip at 2-3 months of age, although this can be done later depending on how the child’s weight gain and growth are progressing.
Lip surgery can be done on an outpatient basis; however, this is best discussed with the cleft surgeon.
The palate is usually fixed when a child is 6 months to a year old, depending on the type of cleft and the child’s general state of health. Palate surgery usually requires an overnight stay and, depending on how well the patient is eating and drinking, he or she can usually go home the next day. We encourage an applesauce consistency diet (Stage 2 baby food). Both lip and palate surgeries require children to wear arm restraints (No-Nos) which keep them from putting their fingers or other hard objects in their newly repaired mouths.
After lip and/or palate surgery, routine clinic visits will ensure that the child is doing well with both eating and speech. As children enter into kindergarten, it is not uncommon to “touch up” their lip repair to reduce any unnecessary attention from other children. The patient will also have comprehensive speech evaluations to ensure the palate is working properly.