A congenital defect in which there is failure of midline fusion of the lip. It could be on one or both sides of the lip (unilateral or bilateral).

It could be minimal cleft or a more complete cleft extending up to the floor of the nose causing a deviation of that nostril.

Surgery remains the only treatment option.

Requires a two team approach, a plastic surgeon and orthodontic.

Cleft lip is usually repaired at the age of 3 months.

An orthodontic appliance is sometimes worn before the surgery to help decrease the gap in some cases.

Key facts about cleft lip surgery:

  • Hospital or an in –office procedure:  hospital procedure.
  • Anesthesia: General.
  • Incisions: straight scar in the lip.
  • Length of procedure: 1.5 hours.
  • What to expect: The lip scars will usually heal in one week,
  • Discomfort: mild.
  • Long term result: the procedure is permanent with minimal scarring.
  • Dressing will be applied for the first week, removed after the first postoperative visit. Stitches are usually absorbed and there is no need to remove them.
  • Ointments will be prescribed after the initial visit and will be applied for the next two weeks. After the third week, anti-scarring creams can be applied with messaging. Baby will be back to nursing the second day. Soft diet is advised for the first week then normal habits can be resumed.
  • A scar revision might be needed as the child gets older and usually done before the child enters school.