Southern DHB Plastic Surgery
Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate
A cleft lip occurs when there is a failure of normal structures to join together during formation of the lip, resulting in a gap in the lip. A cleft lip often occurs together with a cleft palate which is the result of the failure of the two sides of the roof of the mouth to join together. A cleft palate can affect a child’s ability to feed, rate of weight gain, middle ear function, speech and facial growth.
Cleft lip and palate are usually repaired by surgery at about 9 months of age. In some cases, the lip is strapped with tape for some time before surgery to help prepare for the procedure. Further surgery is usually carried out at about 7 or 8 years of age. During this time, the child’s hearing and speech development will be monitored. Sometimes speech therapy and/or grommets (drainage tubes inserted into the ear drums) may be necessary.