When a baby has a cleft lip, cleft palate or both, parents are obviously very concerned about surgery.  They want to know the cleft lip and palate surgery timeline.  In this blog, we’ll answer common questions about the age at which babies can have a surgical repair. Each child is different, and we encourage parents to consult closely with their doctor to determine what’s best for their baby.

Most babies with cleft lip/palate enjoy more success when their parents work with a multi-disciplinary medical office. For instance, at Pediatric ENT of OKC, our specialities include feeding issues, speech issues, and surgical repair.  Our expert team is a knowledgeable ally for stressed-out, worried parents.  Whether you are dealing with immediate or long term effects of cleft lip and palate, you and your child need the best answers and treatments that modern medicine can provide.

Cleft lip and palate surgery timelineHow Soon can a Baby Have Cleft Lip Surgery?

Cleft lip repair surgery may occur as early as 10 weeks of age. This depends on the health of the baby. There are always dangers associated with general anesthesia, and we follow strict guidelines to ensure the baby’s safety.  Furthermore, in some cases, more than one procedure may be needed to address the child’s particular needs.  A bilateral cleft lip (both sides) is naturally more complicated than a unilateral cleft lip (single side).  For these reasons, the cleft lip repair age can vary as the surgeon considers the child’s individual needs and challenges.

When Can a  Baby Have Cleft Palate Surgery?

Surgeons must wait longer to perform corrective surgery for the baby’s palate.  At the youngest, a child may have surgery at six months of age.  However, medical and structural issues could dictate that the child be as old as 18 months.  This can be very frustrating to parents who want the problems fixed, but there are many aspects to consider before a final decision can be made.

Palate repair can require more than one surgery.  The first goal is to close the opening in the roof of the mouth. The second goal is make it more flexible to allow for the most natural speech.  If both goals cannot be met with one surgery, your child’s surgeon will talk to you about the next steps in the surgery timeline.

What Causes a Baby to Have a Cleft Lip?

Approximately one out of 600 babies are born with a cleft lip or palate.  The causes are genetic and environmental. As yet, there is no measure that a mother can take to prevent the problem. For this reason, we encourage parents not to worry about what could have been.

The good news is that most babies can have a normal life. Modern cleft lip palate treatment takes a multi-disciplinary approach. This should start at birth and continue as needed throughout the child’s development. At the earliest age, a cleft lip baby needs help with feeding and related issues.  Babies with cleft lip/palate need the right surgery or surgeries to help them eat and speak normally.  Our Oklahoma City ENT doctors are eager to work with you at every stage in your baby’s development.

Find Out More About Your Baby’s Cleft Lip and Palate Repair Timeline

Parents deserve peace of mind when dealing with the difficult issues surrounding cleft lip and palate treatments.  If your current physician isn’t providing the answers you need, please talk to our physicians about your child’s issues and treatment options.