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.
Visit the highly-trained and exceptionally skilled surgeons at Carolinas Centers for Oral & Facial Surgery for treatment in Gastonia, North Carolina. We use a strategic, coordinated approach among our doctors to build a customized, results-driven treatment plan that will meet your child’s individual needs. Learn more about our unique approach to cleft and craniofacial surgery, and schedule a consultation today.
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.
There are three main choices for anesthesia
Local anesthesia provides numbness directly where it is administered. It does not affect consciousness, so the patient remains awake while the feelings of discomfort are eliminated. Local anesthesia is commonly used for minor procedures.
Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that the patient inhales to alleviate feelings of anxiety. It does not cause the patient to lose consciousness. It is often used together with local anesthesia.
IV sedation is commonly used for moderate to extensive oral or facial surgery procedures. This type of sedation is administered directly into the patient’s vein. Since amnesia (forgetfulness) is a common side effect of the medication, most patients who use IV sedation do not remember their procedure.
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When it comes to treating your child’s orofacial and craniofacial abnormalities, you should choose the experienced surgeons at Carolinas Centers for Oral & Facial Surgery. Contact us today at (704) 820-1195 to learn more about our cleft and craniofacial surgery in Gastonia, North Carolina, and let’s work together to find the right treatment for your child.