Cleft Lip & Palate Surgery

Children begin to develop physically in the early stages of pregnancy. A child’s facial areas, such as the lips and roof of the mouth, are typically fully formed once they are born. It is not uncommon, however, if these facial areas are underdeveloped at birth. About 1 out of 800 children is affected by cleft lip and palate. If a child’s facial areas aren’t fully formed, functional and cosmetic problems can decrease their quality of life. Dr. Pashapour and his surgical team offer cleft lip and palate surgery in Washington DC to improve the function and cosmetic appearance of a cleft lip and palate. Cleft lip and palate surgery allow your child to live a normal, healthy life moving forward.

What Is A Cleft Lip?

A cleft lip is a split or opening in the upper lip. The appearance of a cleft lip is easily recognizable at birth, but it can even be spotted with a prenatal ultrasound. If a cleft lip is spotted before birth, it can be helpful to meet with Dr. Pashapour and his surgical team to develop a medical plan for your child.

A cleft lip can occur in either one or two areas, respectively known as a unilateral cleft lip and bilateral cleft lip. The degree of the split or opening varies for each child. Milder forms of cleft lip appear as a small notch, while more severe forms can have a separation that extends up to the nose. A cleft lip can make feeding more difficult, as well as negatively affect speech development.


What Is A Cleft Palate?

The palate, otherwise known as the roof of the mouth, is made up of bone and muscle and works as a protective barrier between the mouth and nasal area. The back of the palate is called the soft palate, while the front is called the hard palate. A cleft palate occurs when there is an opening on the roof of the mouth. This can cause many complications, ranging from speech problems to difficulty feeding. The palate prevents food and liquid from going up to the nose, so any opening or split in the palate can complicate this typical function. Because the lips and palate are close together, a child can be born with both a cleft lip and cleft palate.

What Causes Cleft Lip And Palate?

The causes of cleft lip and palate are difficult to determine on a case-by-case basis. Cleft lip and palate usually form from a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Cleft lip and palate usually occur within the first trimester of pregnancy. The lips and palate are normally formed during the second or third month of pregnancy.

How Do I Know If My Child Has A Cleft Lip Or Palate?

A cleft lip and palate have distinguishable features. Your child can possess traits from only a cleft lip or cleft palate. It is possible, however, to have traits of both. Here are some traits that may indicate your child has cleft lip / cleft palate.

There is a split in the lip on one or both sides of the face
A split in the lip that appears only as a small notch or extends to the palate
An opening in the roof of the mouth that doesn’t extend to the upper lip
Difficulty speaking or a nasal voice
Difficulty swallowing food or liquids

How Is Cleft Lip And Palate Surgery Performed?

Cleft lip surgery is typically performed when the child is around 10 weeks old. The procedure is done under general anesthesia to ensure that your child is safe and comfortable. The opening will be closed by creating flaps that will be sutured together. Muscle function, speech development, and normal feeding will improve.

Compared to cleft lip surgery, cleft palate surgery will occur when the child is more developed, typically around 8 months old. The surgery may be delayed if there are other health complications at hand. Cleft palate surgery is done under general anesthesia. Cleft palate surgery will close the gap or opening to give your child a more functioning palate. The palate muscles are then connected for the best results. A closed palate will give your child better speech development and help prevent any problems during feeding. It will be important that your child does not reach into their mouth after surgery.

How Can I Learn More About Cleft Lip & Palate Surgery?

Dr. Pashapour and his staff at Pashapour Oral + Facial Surgery would be happy to discuss the details of a cleft lip and palate surgery with you. To schedule an appointment in Washington, DC or Arlington, please call our office at 703-566-1990 or request an appointment online.


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Educational Background

Georgetown University The University of Pennsylvania School Of Dental Medicine Drexel University College Of Medicine University Of Medicine & Dentistry Of New Jersey

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