Treatment for cleft lip and palate usually involves at least one procedure performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon like Dr. Craig Yamamoto, Dr. Blake Kitamura, Dr. Eva Kiezik, or Dr. Thomas Yamamoto at Oral Surgery Hawaii. Our surgeons are more than willing to work with you, your pediatrician, and any other members of your treatment team to form the best plan for your child.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are two separate conditions that can develop during early pregnancy when the two sides of a child’s face start to meet. Cleft lip surgeries differ from cleft palate treatments, which tend to be more involved, although it is possible to have both a cleft lip and a cleft palate at the same time. We’ve provided some additional information below about how oral surgeons help treat each of these conditions.
Cleft lip surgery usually occurs before the age of 3 months. The surgery will close the divide between the two sides of the upper lip, improving eating and speaking function. Sometimes an additional surgery may occur at age 10 to make any final adjustments to the lip or nostril area before the child starts transitioning into adolescence and growing more rapidly.
Cleft palate treatments are more extensive than cleft lip treatments. Multiple surgeries may be necessary to repair the cleft in the palate and fix any dental problems. The first procedure typically takes place between the ages of 7–18 months. This initial surgery is meant to close the gap in the roof of the mouth, restore the muscles around the palate, and ensure that the roof of the mouth is functional. This surgery should make eating, drinking, and speaking much easier by blocking any passage into the nasal cavity.
Another procedure may be necessary around age 8 to finish repairing the hard palate and prepare the jaw for the development of permanent teeth. This procedure or others, such as orthognathic surgery, may be performed later in adolescence or adulthood, depending on the needs of the patient.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to understand the balance between facial bones, muscles, and other structures. Our surgeons are also trained in pediatric anesthesia and life support to ensure the safety of your child throughout the treatment process. Cleft lip and palate surgeries restore your child’s oral function and appearance, and our surgeons understand how to take your child’s growing face into account when planning treatment. To learn more about cleft lip and palate treatments, contact one of our offices in Honolulu, Aiea, and Kaneohe, HI.