Safe Restoration for Your Child

When the two sides of the face do not join together properly in utero, a split in the lip and/or roof of the mouth can occur. This split is known as a cleft lip or cleft palate, and it is one of the most common birth defects. A team of specialists is usually involved in a cleft lip or palate repair, including an oral surgeon, dentist, a pediatrician. Depending on the child’s age, a speech pathologist may also be involved to help them establish proper articulation.

Oral surgeons have received years of training beyond dental school to gain the surgical knowledge necessary to perform the full scope of oral procedures. As an important member of your child’s treatment team, our oral surgeons are qualified to perform facial surgeries to restore the function and appearance of the mouth and face, including cleft lip and palate repair. Carolinas Center for Oral & Facial Surgery provides several options for anesthesia, and all of our offices are equipped with the latest 3D scanning technology.

Meet Our Specialists

Charlotte’s only ACPA-approved cleft and craniofacial team is here to support you and your child every step of the way. Upholding the highest standards of clinical excellence, our board-certified specialists deliver care that is comprehensive, compassionate, and personable.

Dr. Rick Kapitan

Learn More

Dr. Daniel Cook

Learn More

Surgical Treatment

Newborns and infants with a cleft lip or palate often have feeding difficulties as a result of their cleft. Special bottles and other tools can help, but surgical repair is necessary to correct the cleft once the child is old enough to undergo the procedure. Every cleft is different: a child may only have a cleft lip, or only a cleft palate, or both. The severity of the cleft varies too. The number of surgical procedures necessary to repair the cleft will depend on the extent of the child’s condition.

In general, a cleft lip is a simpler surgical procedure than a cleft palate, although both conditions can be corrected successfully. A child with a cleft lip will undergo one or two surgeries, with the first surgery around 3–6 months of age. The goal of a cleft lip repair is to correct the split in the lip to enhance function and facial esthetics.

Repairing a cleft palate is a more involved procedure, with the first surgery taking place between the ages of 6–12 months. Once the facial structures have developed more, around age 8, another surgery takes place to increase bone quantity in the upper jaw. More surgeries may be recommended as the child develops.


We Are Here for You

Learn more about cleft and craniofacial surgery, schedule an appointment, and more. Contact Carolinas Center for Oral & Facial Surgery today.