Cleft Lip / Palate in NYC


Cleft Lip and Palate

Upper West Side Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery performs cleft lip and palate procedures in NYC. Call 212-466-6984 to schedule an appointment.

Cleft lips and palates affect a small percentage of infants whose facial tissues do not fully mature before birth. A cleft lip is a split or opening in the upper lip, whereas a cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth. These openings usually fuse together during early pregnancy, but environmental or genetic factors can prevent this from happening.

Clefts in the lips and palates can range in severity, and they can make feeding difficult because they interfere with latching. Frequent ear infections and hearing loss are possible as children grow, as are speech and orthodontic issues. Although it’s natural for parents to feel worried and anxious, you should know that with modern surgical techniques, children who are born with cleft lips and palates have excellent treatment outcomes.


Cleft Lip


Cleft lips are typically repaired between the ages of 3 and 6 months. Before undergoing a full surgical lip repair, your child may require a lip adhesion or a molding plate to assist in healing the split. After their surgery, children with cleft lips have a scar on the upper lip, under the nose.


Cleft Palate


Cleft palates are normally repaired when children are a little older, between the ages of 9 and 12 months. The soft palate muscles on each side of the gap in the roof of the mouth are joined and a regular barrier between the mouth and the nose is formed.

Often, the initial surgeries are the first stage in the process of repairing a cleft lip or palate. Additional surgeries are usually required to improve the appearance of the lip and nose, to aid breathing, to stabilize and straighten the jaw, and to reduce the gap between the mouth and the nose. As children get older, we frequently collaborate with an orthodontist to influence correct jaw development and ensure proper alignment of the teeth using braces.


Frequently Asked Questions About Cleft Lip and Palate


Is cleft palate serious?


With proper treatment, cleft palate is no longer considered a serious birth condition. Most children who are treated for cleft palate or lip go on to have normal lives, with no other serious medical issues.


At what age is cleft palate repair?


Cleft palate repair is usually performed between 9 and 14 months; when there is a separation in the gums, it is typically repaired between 8 and 10 years of age.


At what age can you fix a cleft lip?


Cleft lips are usually repaired between the ages of 3 and 6 months, although this can vary depending on your child’s unique needs.


Is cleft lip surgery painful?


We do everything we can to keep your child comfortable after their cleft lip surgery. Although infants cannot tell us whether they’re experiencing pain, most parents observe that their children are more fussy than usual for about a week after the surgery.


Do all cleft palates need surgery?


Submucous clefts are not repaired during infancy; instead, we wait to see if speech and language are affected. Only about 50% of children with this type of cleft require surgery.

Call 212-466-6984 to schedule your appointment.