Cleft lip surgery is a highly effective and humanitarian application of plastic surgery. Cleft lips pose significant functional and psychoemotional issues to affected persons, and also create a variety of social challenges. Luckily, there are many treatment options for persons born with cleft lips, so these impairing conditions can be completely and almost invisibly repaired while the baby is still an infant. Of course, cleft lip repair can be accomplished at any age and even adults who have endured the condition for decades can still find relief from their physical and emotional problems using aesthetic correction.
Indications for Cleft Lip Surgery
A cleft lip is a condition in which the upper lip does not form properly. A partially cleft lip is also known as an incomplete cleft and describes a condition in which a split appears on one or both sides (unilateral or bilateral) of the upper lip, but does not join the nasal openings.
Meanwhile, a complete, or full cleft, does indeed progress to join the nasal openings.
Some cleft lip conditions exist as stand alone issues, while many patients also endure cleft palate. Repairing a cleft lip is easier and less invasive than the full cleft palate surgery.
Cleft Lip Correction Options
For children with access to quality healthcare, surgical correction of a cleft lip typically begins very early in life. Usually, the surgery can take place within 2 to 3 months of age, although individual circumstances can alter this timetable.
Repairing a cleft palate will take longer and is not usually performed until the child is at least 9 months to 1 year of age in most cases.
Once the correction is made, the child will still need follow-up care to help them with possible speech impediments, dental issues and additional cosmetic concerns which may reveal themselves as the child grows into an adult.
Cleft Lip Surgery Synopsis
Surgical correction of a split lip or palate is almost always successful and can mean a whole new start in life for any affected child. Unfortunately, in many areas of the world, quality care is not generally available and some children are forced to deal with the functional and aesthetic issues for years, or even an entire lifetime.
There are many organizations which now offer free plastic surgery to needy children and adults who suffer from cleft lip issues and a host of other problematic body concerns. These groups facilitate travel to host countries for surgery and even send surgeons out into the field to perform charity plastic surgery all around the world.
For more information on these specialized programs, contact your nearest Red Cross office.