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Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate

cleftlipCleft lip (cheiloschisis) and cleft palate (palatoschisis) are among the most common birth defects affecting children in North America.

The incomplete formation of the upper lip (cleft lip) or roof of the mouth (cleft palate) can occur individually, or both defects may occur together. The conditions can vary in severity and may involve one or both sides of the face.

How they appear

The appearance of cleft lip and cleft palate may be:

  • A small notch that may extend from the lip to the bottom of the nose through the palate and upper gum.
  • Splits across both the mouth’s roof and the lip, which may affect the sides of the face.

A third type of cleft lip and cleft palate includes a split in the mouth’s roof, which has no visible impact on the face.

Submucous cleft palate is also a possibility, which involves a cleft in the soft palate muscles. As these muscles are located at the back of the mouth, this condition may go totally unnoticed at birth. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can result in symptoms such as dental issues, feeding difficulties, swallowing troubles, chronic ear infections, and others.


A cleft, or separation of the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth, occurs very early in the development of your unborn child. During fetal development, certain components of the upper lip and roof of the mouth fail to form normally. Cleft lip and cleft palate repair are a type of plastic surgery to correct this abnormal development both to restore function and to restore a more normal appearance.

Most clefts can be repaired through specialized plastic surgery techniques, improving your child’s ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe, and to restore a more normal appearance and function.

The repair usually involves three steps. In the first, general anesthesia or intravenous sedation are administered by the surgeon to the child. The second step is about making the incisions on either or both sides of the cleft for creating flaps of muscle, intraoral tissue and skin. Once they are created, they are joined and stitched near the cleft. As a result, the normal nose and lip anatomies are achieved. The third step involves closing the incisions using absorbable and/or removable sutures.


After the cleft lip and cleft palate surgery has come to a conclusion, parents need to maintain certain restrictions such as:

  • Only liquid or puree-based diets for several days
  • Avoiding the use of pacifiers, bottles, and/or straws for a while
  • Prevention of touch to let the surgical site heal

A child may also experience pain during the recovery period. However, suitable pain medication can be used to manage symptoms.

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Dr. Morwood is a board-certified plastic surgeon who will provide a custom-designed approach to help you achieve your aesthetic vision.

Please call (831) 646-8661 to set up a consultation.

Out of Town? Visit Monterey for Your Next Surgery

Out of Town?

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Your Next Surgery

Natural Neck Lift For Men & Women

Natural Neck Lift
For Men & WomenDisclaimer: there is no guarantee of specific results and the results can vary.

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