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A Guide to Cleft Lip and Palate Repair

Gillette Children’s is one of the top centers in the country for craniofacial care. July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month. At Gillette, you’ll have access to leading craniofacial surgeons and neurosurgeons who specialize in caring for kids who have complex conditions. Whether treatment begins in infancy or early childhood, our goal is to improve your child’s physical appearance and promote self-confidence.

Cleft lip and/or cleft palate repair is surgery to fix separation of the upper lip or a split in the roof of the mouth. Cleft lip and palate can be repaired through plastic surgery.

Surgery is designed to improve a child’s ability to eat, speak and hear, and restore a more normal appearance. An infant’s initial cleft lip and/or cleft palate repair often makes a vast difference in quality of life. Secondary procedures, however, might be needed for functional reasons or to refine appearance.

In some cases, an ultrasound can diagnose cleft lip and palate before your baby is born, typically with an obstetrics and/or gynecologist physician (OB/GYN). Craniofacial and plastic surgeons at Gillette Children’s offer prenatal consultations to talk about your baby’s condition before they’re born. We'll consult with you about cleft lip and palate, share information about current treatment options, provide appropriate counseling, and if you wish, help you plan a course of treatment.

The animated guide in this story outlines the typical process for a cleft lip and palate repair and may answer many of the questions you have.