Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery

What is cleft and craniofacial surgery?

boy with repaired cleft lip

Cleft surgery is the surgical procedure used to correct a cleft, which occurs when there is a separation of the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth. This typically occurs very early in child development in utero. The surgery performed by a plastic surgeon can restore both function, including the ability to eat, hear, speak, and breathe, as well as a normal appearance.

Craniofacial surgery is the procedure used to correct congenital defects of the skull, which refers to issues that occur at birth or due to injuries to soft tissue and bone in the head and neck.

When should I or my child see a specialist for cleft and craniofacial surgery?

You or your child should see a specialist as early as possible if you believe you would benefit from cleft and craniofacial surgery. Early intervention is essential so your medical team can devise a course of treatment including the surgery and beyond, such as speech rehabilitation and dental restoration.

Enquire with our plastic surgeons.

Did you know?

A procedure called nasoalveolar molding, or NAM, can help to correct cleft issues. An orthodontist creates a plate that is inserted into the baby’s mouth, and he or she wears it all day. It is updated each week to keep up with the baby’s changing face. ¹

What are the risks of cleft and craniofacial surgery?

elderly couple outdoors with grandchild

While cleft and craniofacial surgery does not carry many dangerous risks, all surgical procedures carry some degree of uncertainty. The most common risk associated with cleft and craniofacial surgery is asymmetry – which occurs when one side of the mouth and nose look different from the other side and does not match. Additionally, the incisions needed for the procedure can cause scarring.

How should I or my loved one prepare for the appointment?

There are a few questions you or your loved one should ask at the first appointment with the plastic surgeon for cleft and craniofacial surgery. These questions include:

· How long will my loved one be in surgery for?
· How can I feed a baby after they have had their surgery?
· When is the right time to have the surgery?
· Who can I call if I need help or advice following the surgical procedure?

What can I expect during the cleft and craniofacial surgery process?

Cleft and craniofacial surgery involves moving the tissue from the edges of the cleft into the cleft area. The surgeon typically does not need to take issue from elsewhere in the body. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia.

What happens after the cleft and craniofacial surgery?

Babies typically require close monitoring after cleft and craniofacial surgery in the few days following their procedure, followed by a few weeks of specialized care. Their hand movement needs to be controlled so they do not put their fingers in their mouth and disrupt the healing and repair. Follow-ups with your specialist and medical team help ensure the healing process is moving forward as it should.

Request an appointment with a plastic surgeon today.

“Specialized procedure diminishes lasting effects for children born with cleft palates and lips.” FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports, 3 July 2017,