When Should I Treat My Child’s Cleft Lip?

At Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis, we understand that every parent wants the best for their child. One condition that may cause concern is cleft lip. “When should I treat my child’s cleft lip,” is a common question we get from parents. The journey of discovering that your child has a cleft lip can feel overwhelming and emotional. 

But remember that you’re not alone. At PSG, we are here to provide support and guidance throughout the treatment process. 

In this article, we will help you with the following:

  • Understand what a cleft lip is
  • Discover the importance of early treatment 
  • Become aware of signs and indicators of cleft lip
  • Navigate available treatment options

When Should I Treat My Child's Cleft Lip?What Is Cleft Lip?

A cleft lip is a congenital condition with a split or gap in the upper lip. It can range from a small notch to a significant separation that extends to the nose. This condition develops during early pregnancy when the lip and palate fail to fuse properly. 

The impact of cleft lip goes beyond physical appearance, affecting a child’s ability to eat, speak, and even socialize. As parents, it is natural to want the best for your child, and addressing their cleft lip is crucial for their overall well-being.

Why Is the Early Treatment of Cleft Lip Important?

Early intervention plays a vital role in treating cleft lip. The sooner treatment begins, the better the potential outcomes. 

Treating cleft lip early can minimize potential complications, improve the child’s ability to eat and speak, and enhance their overall quality of life. At PSG, our experienced team understands the importance of early intervention and provides comprehensive care tailored to your child’s unique needs.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cleft Lip?

As parents, it is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate cleft lip in your child. Some common signs include a visible gap or split in the upper lip, a notch in the nostril area, and difficulty with breastfeeding or bottle feeding. 

If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your child’s lip or facial structure, it is crucial to seek medical advice promptly. A proper diagnosis from a medical professional, such as our specialists at PSG, is essential to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

What Treatment Options Can Help Cleft Lip?

When it comes to treating cleft lip, several options are available. Surgical intervention is often the primary approach.

  1. Cheiloplasty: A cleft lip repair surgery, also known as cheiloplasty, is a surgical procedure that seeks to help your child by closing the gap, restoring lip function, and smoothing out the aesthetic appearance of the lip and nose. This procedure aims to give your child’s face a more symmetrical appearance and full function of their mouth. This will aid them in eating, speaking, and future growth.
  2. Pre-Surgical Orthopedics or Nasoalveolar Molding (NAM)* Before surgery, a plastic plate device may be used to help mold your child’s gums, lip, and nostrils into a more natural shape. This can make the surgical repair process easier and often leads to better post-surgical outcomes.
  3. Speech Therapy: Children with cleft lip and/or palate often have speech issues because the condition can affect the muscles used in speech. Speech therapy can help to improve this over time.
  4. Feeding Assistance: Feeding can be a challenge for babies with cleft lip and palate, so special feeding techniques or devices may be used to help the baby get enough nutrition.
  5. Audiology Monitoring and Treatment: Middle ear problems are common in individuals with cleft lip/palate, leading to higher rates of hearing loss. Regular audiology checks are essential, and treatments for any issues found should be addressed promptly.
  6. Dental Care: Teeth can be affected by a cleft lip or palate. Regular visits to a dentist or orthodontist, and possibly corrective braces or surgery, may be required to help properly align the teeth.
  7. Psychological Support:  A cleft lip and palate can significantly impact a person’s self-esteem, particularly during the difficult teenage years. Psychological support, such as counseling, can be very beneficial.

PSG’s team of skilled surgeons specializes in cleft lip repair, ensuring the best possible outcomes for your child.

When Should I Treat My Child's Cleft Lip?Cleft Lip Treatment at PSG

If you have noticed cleft lip in your child or have concerns about their lip and facial structure, we encourage you to contact PSG for a consultation. Our experienced surgeons will assess your child’s condition, discuss treatment options, and guide you through decision-making. We understand that every child is unique, and our personalized approach ensures that your child receives the individualized care they deserve. Remember, treating your child’s cleft lip is about improving their physical appearance and allowing them to live a fulfilling and confident life. Addressing their cleft lip early gives them the best chance for optimal outcomes and a bright future. Go here to schedule a consultation.