Knoxville Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Surgery

cleft lip

A cleft lip, cleft palate, or both, can be devastating news to a new parent.  Fortunately, clefts of the lip and palate are conditions that can be treated with early surgery in order to minimize any long-term functional or cosmetic defect.

Cleft lip and palate are estimated to occur in approximately 1:1000 births in the United States, but this can vary depending on ethnicity and other genetic factors.

There are a number of important issues to consider in taking care of children born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate.

  1. Feeding:  Children with clefts can have difficulty sucking and may need bottles with special nipples in order to eat. These are not difficult to learn to use, and most parents pick up on the feeding technique very quickly.
  2. Weight gain:  This typically goes along with feeding, but it is important that your child’s weight gain is closely monitored by Dr. Hall and your pediatrician for the first few weeks of life to ensure they are progressing normally.
  3. Ear infections:  The muscles of the soft palate help the ear’s natural drainage tubes function correctly; when they are abnormally positioned, the ear will not drainMost children with cleft palate will need ear tubes placed at the time of their palate surgery.  Dr. Hall works closely with a number of pediatric ear-nose-and-throat surgeons and will coordinate the surgeries.
  4. Speech development:  After cleft palate repair, your child will need to be evaluated by an experienced speech pathologist as he/she begins. This can help identify problems with speech early and allow Dr. Hall to correct them with a secondary procedure on the back of the palate.

When Do You Fix a Cleft lip and Cleft Palate?

Cleft lip surgery usually takes place when your child is around 3 months old.  Shortly after birth, Dr. Hall will examine your child and determine whether orthodontic treatment (called NAM or Nasal-Alveolar-Molding) will be beneficial to help narrow the cleft and improve the functional and cosmetic outcome.  If so, he will refer you to a pediatric dentist to begin treatment.

Cleft palate surgery typically occurs when your child is 9 months to a year old.  This allows the small muscles of the palate to grow and develop, making it easier to restore the normal anatomy of the palate. Knoxville Cleft palate surgery is done before your child begins to speak in order to allow him to learn the normal ways to produce sounds, which can prevent the development of abnormal speech patterns as he/she gets older.

If you have any questions about Knoxville cleft lip or cleft palate surgery, or would like to meet with Dr. Hall to discuss options for your child, call 865.973.9500 or use our contact form and request an appointment. For out of town patients, feel free to  request an online consult via Skype.
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