A cleft lip and palate is a congenital facial deformity affecting the upper lip and the roof of the mouth. The clefts may be independent or associated with each other, causing severe characteristic distortions of the lip, nose and upper jaw. When your child experiences this condition, it can affect physical development, including his ability to feed, speak and hear.
Dr. Sean Boutros, founder of Houston Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery in Houston, Texas is committed to providing comprehensive care for children with cleft lip and palate. We provide advanced treatment methods to correct the deformity and restore proper form and function.
Treatment of Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate
The lip is repaired at 3-4 months of age and cleft palate repair is typically performed at approximately 11 months of age in order to allow for normal speech development. However, the actual timing depends on the child’s growth and on the pre-surgical treatment plan.
The first consideration in cleft lip is preoperative adjustment known as Nasal Alveolar Molding (NAM). It is an extensive and complicated procedure, done to improve the final results of surgical repair for cleft lip and cleft palate.
Nasal Alveolar Molding is begun within one to two weeks after birth.
It serves three main purposes:
- Realigns the cleft segments of the upper jaw
- Brings the edges of the cleft lip in closer proximity
- Allows correction of the nasal deformity
It is a treatment method that reshapes the infant’s nose without surgery through the use of a custom made orthopedic denture plate. This facilitates a more accurate and aesthetic nasal repair at the time of the surgery. The duration varies according to the severity of the condition for every infant. Patients with more severe deformity will require longer molding periods than patients with less severe deformity.
Need for Early Treatment
An untreated cleft lip and palate can cause serious speech and feeding problems. Therefore, treatment should be sought early. Dr. Sean Boutros helps parents choose the right type of feeding bottles for their newborn with either congenital condition.
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