Pediatric cleft lip surgery is a procedure that can help a child with a cleft lip and palate a normal appearance and give his or her lip and palate normal functions. There are still people out there who are taken aback when they see a child who has a cleft lip. However, having a cleft lip mainly poses a problem because this inhibits the child’s growth, along with difficulty in feeding and difficulty in speaking. This is the reason why it is important that a child who has a cleft lip should undergo pediatric cleft lip surgery at a young age in order for them to thrive.
A Brief Background about Cleft Lip
What is this condition?
A cleft lip is one condition that is a common condition where the baby is born with a gap or two on his or her upper lip. This condition results from the improper fusing of the tissues in a baby’s face while he or she is still in the womb, thereby leading to its opening. A complete cleft lip is when the cleft lip of the child extends all the way into the nose.
When the palate is not completely closed, this condition is known as cleft palate and this affects the roof of the mouth. This also extends from the front of the mouth or the hard palate up to the back of the soft palate. There are also babies who are born with both conditions – a cleft lip and a cleft palate.
Causes of a Cleft Lip
As per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the condition of having a cleft lip and cleft palate can usually because by the occurrence of a change to the baby’s genes. There are specific medications, or food and beverages that the mother eats during pregnancy can cause this condition.
How Common is this Condition?
As previously stated, a cleft lip is a pretty common condition and this usually affects 1 out of 1,000 newborn children.
What to Know About a Bilateral Cleft Lip
There are cleft lips that occur either on one side of the face or on both sides. If the condition is on both sides, this is known as the bilateral cleft lip. This condition involves two sides of the lip and this often creates a wide nose with a short columella, which is the tissue that connects from the tip of your nose up to the base.
For a baby suffering from a bilateral cleft lip, an appliance called Nasoalveolar Molding (NAM) is being used in order to shape the nose, and then taping is being provided in order to narrow the gap.
When the age of the baby is already at 5 months, the NAM procedure is being done so that the doctors will be able to take full advantage of the molding forces of the Nasoalveolar Molding or NAM appliance and thereby allowing it for growth.
A Brief Background on the Pediatric Cleft Lip Surgery
What should be Expect in a Pediatric Cleft Lip Surgery
Pediatric cleft lip surgery is a procedure that is conducted on a baby when the baby is about three to four months old. And although parents are normally anxious when it comes to their newborn child undergoing surgery, there are competent surgeons that can give you extensive experience and a team who will do everything in order to keep your child safe and comfortable.
What Happens Before the Cleft Lip Surgery
During the months before the surgery, you and your child should meet with your trusted pediatric surgeon so that his or her team will be able to address all of your concerns.
After that, you should be able to receive a detailed list of all the instructions before proceeding with the cleft lip surgery for your child. The list should be able to include the foods and drinks that should be avoided on the day before the cleft lip surgery.
What Happens During the Cleft Lip Surgery
Cleft lip surgery is a procedure that should be done by an experienced team who had undergone extensive training and study of the unilateral and bilateral cleft lips. The approach should be done in a way that optimizes the surgical outcome.
After the procedure, you can then bring your baby home on that same day, as physical restraints should not be in place for your child’s post-operation recovery.
What Happens After the Pediatric Cleft Lip Surgery
You, as a parent, should be provided with the contact details of the surgical team. This is so that you will be able to easily communicate with the team especially after the surgery. I
It is important that your child should avoid using straws, utensils, and pacifiers days after the surgery. They can drink what they want to drink, however, food should be smooth and should be fed from a cup or bottle.
After a successful operation, a good surgeon should not require your child to take prescription pain medications. You will go home with just basic medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen for pain control, as these are necessary for the wellbeing and recovery of your child.
You will also be given follow-up schedules after the surgery. The frequency usually is at one week, one month, and then three months after the surgery. Your child should also be given aggressive scar massage treatment along with silicone scar cream application for one month. There are also other surgeons who prefer that their patients visit them at least once a year just to monitor the growth and be able to evaluate if there needs to have any revisions.
Period Needed for the Cleft Lip Surgery to Heal
The cleft lip surgery will usually take 3 to 4 weeks before it heals. Within this period of time, you should not worry too much if the mouth of your child will be swollen or that during his first two weeks of the procedure because is a common effect from the surgery. The incision brought about by the procedure should be red or pink and as time passes through, this will eventually fade.
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