Correcting a Cleft Lip and Palate
Posted August 15, 2016 in Cleft Lip and Palate
Approximately one in 700 children is born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or a combination of both. If left unrepaired, a cleft lip and palate can lead to problems throughout childhood and adolescence. Dr. Brian Boyd and his team of craniofacial specialists can correct a cleft lip and palate to help the child live a normal life.
What Is a Cleft Lip and Palate?
A “cleft” is a gap, opening, or break. The upper lip and roof of the mouth can be split, and this is known as a cleft lip and palate. A cleft lip may look like a notch in the upper lip or a complete separation extending from the mouth to the nose. A cleft palate can go the full length of the roof of the mouth. Cleft lips can occur on one side (unilateral) or both (bilateral).
What Causes a Cleft Lip and Palate?
Cleft lip and/or palate may be genetic or may occur as a result of drugs, viruses, or toxins. Having a family history of cleft lip and palate or other birth defects increases the likelihood of being born with this condition.
What Problems Can a Cleft Lip and Palate Cause?
The problems caused by a cleft lip and palate are cosmetic, functional, and medical. Aesthetically, it affects the appearance of the face and may be distressing for the parents and child. This condition can change the shape or angle of the nose and cause the teeth to be poorly aligned. Functionally, a cleft lip and palate can lead to problems with speech and eating. Food can even become displaced into the nasal cavity. As a health concern, a cleft lip and palate may lead to feeding problems, chronic ear infections, facial growth issues, failure to thrive, as well as dental and orthodontic difficulties.
How Does Dr. Boyd Help Children With a Cleft Lip and Palate?
In the Craniofacial Clinic at Harbor-UCLA, Dr. Boyd and a team of specialists treat infants with a cleft lip and/or palate by surgically correcting their condition and then following up with them to ensure normal development. To correct a cleft lip and palate, Dr. Boyd performs cleft lip repair surgery when the infant is three months old and cleft palate repair surgery when the child reaches one year of age. However, even after initial corrective surgery, growth needs to be monitored and secondary surgery performed to address functional and aesthetic issues as they arise. For this reason, Dr. Boyd follows all his cleft lip and palate patients until the age of 18 with an expert team consisting of pediatricians, speech therapists, and social workers.
Dr. Brian Boyd and his team of craniofacial specialists can treat a cleft lip and palate to improve the quality of life for affected children. If you would like to learn more, schedule an appointment with Dr. Boyd. Call (310) 597-4734 or complete our online contact form to schedule your appointment now.