Synonym: Hare Lip
Cleft Lip or Hare Lip is a birth defect where the upper lip is split or separated either in the middle, on one side or on both the sides. In Cleft Lip the separation or gap can extend up to the nose, creating an opening between the oral cavity and nasal cavity. It is not uncommon to see Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate together in the same patient. Sometimes there might be an associated separation or just a notch in the upper gum as well. These Face Defects can easily be corrected surgically.
Where can I get surgical repair of Cleft Lip?
Cost of procedure performed in the US: $15,000.
All prices are in US dollars and include the cost of the procedure and minimum hospital stay. Estimates and minimum hospital stay will vary depending upon individual needs and requirements.
Cleft Lip can be 1) Unilateral Cleft Lip - On one side of the nose or 2) Bilateral Cleft Lip - On both the sides of the nose. Cleft Lip can either be 1) Complete Cleft Lip - When the split extends right up and into the nose or 2) Incomplete Cleft Lip - When the split in the upper lip does not extend up to the nose.
It is important that several health professionals with different expertise are involved to assess and monitor your child's progress as he/she grows up. The team of Health Professional for surgical correction and rehabilitation of a child with Cleft Lip will include:
Your child will be hospitalized the night before for pre-operative assessment like blood and urine testing, and may be a chest x-ray. You will be instructed not to feed anything to your child for at least 10 hours before the Cleft Lip operation. Also make sure that your child does not have any viral infections like flu, cough, cold or diarrhea.
The surgery for the repair of Cleft Lip is usually done in the first year of life, preferably around 10 months of age. Cleft Lip repair is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision on both the sides of the cleft up to and into the nose. The dark pink outer portion of the separation, which includes the skin and the muscle, will be pulled down, the skin of the lip will be apposed and stitched together thus closing the gap in your child's lip. The surgery for Cleft Lip is performed as a single procedure which also closes the nostril deformity. Bilateral Cleft Lip sometimes requires two surgeries. Depending on how extensive the birth defect is, surgery for Cleft Lip can take anywhere from 2 - 3 hours.
Your child will feel some pain and soreness following the Cleft Lip surgery. He / she will be irritable and may require some medication to calm down and relieve the pain and soreness which commonly occurs following the operation to repair Cleft Lip. Your surgeon might prescribe antibiotics to minimize the chances of infection while in the hospital. He / she will provide you with instructions on feeding and general care of the baby during the crucial couple of days after surgery for Cleft Lip. Your child may have to be put in restraints to make sure he / she does not rub the area of the face that has stitches. Your child will be hospitalized for about 4 - 5 days, the stitches need not be opened as they dissolve on it's own after a few days.
Outcome of Cleft Lip surgery is quite good. Most commonly the defect can be corrected in a single operation, very seldom a second operation is required. If the cleft (gap) is extensive and cannot be closed in one surgery, then the operation is performed in two stages. However, there will be unevenness of the upper lip and a faded but a visible scar will be there that your child will have to live with for the rest of his / her life.
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Keywords: Face Defects / Deformities, Rehabilitation, Oral Cavity, Nasal Cavity, Birth Defect, Teething, Speech, Hearing Loss, Ear Infection, Symmetry of Facial Features