Cleft lip surgery
A cleft lip can range in severity from a slight notch in the red part of the upper lip to a complete separation of the lip extending into the nose. Clefts can occur on one or both sides of the upper lip. Surgery is generally done when the child is about 10 weeks old.
To repair a cleft lip, Dr. Greg Ganske will make an incision on either side of the cleft from the mouth into the nostril. He will then turn the dark pink outer portion of the cleft down and pull the muscle and the skin of the lip together to close the separation. Muscle function and the normal “cupid’s bow” shape of the mouth are restored. The nostril deformity often associated with cleft lip may also be improved at the time of lip repair or in a later surgery.
Recovering from cleft lip surgery
Your child may be restless for awhile after surgery, but Dr. Greg Ganske can prescribe medication to relieve any discomfort. Elbow restraints may be necessary for a few weeks to prevent your baby from rubbing the stitched area.
If dressings have been used, they’ll be removed within a day or two, and the stitches will either dissolve or be removed within five days. Dr. Greg Ganske will advise you on how to feed your child during the first few weeks after surgery.
It’s normal for the surgical scar to appear to get bigger and redder for a few weeks after surgery. This will gradually fade, although the scar will never totally disappear. In many children, however, it’s barely noticeable because of the shadows formed by the nose and upper lip.
Cleft palate surgery
In some children, a cleft palate may involve only a tiny portion at the back of the roof of the mouth; for others, it can mean a complete separation that extends from front to back. Just as in cleft lip, cleft palate may appear on one or both sides of the upper mouth. However, repairing a cleft palate involves more extensive surgery and is usually done when the child is nine to 18 months old, so the baby is bigger and better able to tolerate surgery.
To repair a cleft palate, Dr. Greg Ganske will make an incision on both sides of the separation, moving tissue from each side of the cleft to the center or midline of the roof of the mouth. This rebuilds the palate, joining muscle together and providing enough length in the palate so the child can eat and learn to speak properly.
Recovering from cleft palate surgery
For a day or two, your child will probably feel some soreness and pain, which is easily controlled by medication. During this period, your child will not eat or drink as much as usual – so an intravenous line will be used to maintain fluid levels. Elbow restraints may be used to prevent your baby from rubbing the repaired area. Your doctor will advise you on how to feed your child during the first few weeks after surgery. It’s crucial that you follow Dr. Greg Ganske’s advice on feeding to allow the palate to heal properly.