Cleft is the gap or split in the upper lip and palate that occurs because parts of the fetus's face fail to join together during the pregnancy and thus it is mostly a natal condition. A baby can be born with cleft on the lip, palate or both. If not treated with with a surgical or non-surgical approach, cleft would not be repaired by the body itself and although it is mostly addressed during the infancy, it can be repaired during adulthood as well.
Cleft Lip Surgery
Being the less complex of the two cleft operations, cleft lip surgery is pretty straightforward. For this surgery, surgeon makes incisions on each side of the cleft, from lip to nostril and then sutures the sides together. Surgeon also realigns the muscles on the upper lip to provide normal lip function as well.
Cleft Palate Surgery
Due to the positioning and the harder tissues of the palate, cleft palate surgery is a more complicated procedure. While there are different techniques of performing the operation, most common techniques generally involve closing the palate in three layers:
- the inner layers that form the nasal lining
- the middle layers consisting of the muscles at the back of the palate
- and the final layer that includes the oral mucosa
Cleft Palate Surgery repairs these three layers and realign the palatal muscles. This allows muscles to properly function for speech, eating and swallowing. As the hole on the palate closes, oral and nasal cavities gets separated from each other, as they should be.