A cleft lip, which can occur with or without a cleft palate, is the fourth most common birth defect in the United States. About one in 700 babies is born with a cleft lip every year. The cleft lip, also known as a harelip, occurs early during an embryo’s development. It’s caused by a lack of tissue. As such, the tissue does not join together properly. In some cases, cleft lip occurs as part of a syndrome. For the most part, it is not yet known why cleft lip occurs, and there is so far no way to prevent it. Fortunately, cleft lip surgery was designed to restore both appearance and function.
Types of Cleft Lip
Cleft lips vary in severity. They can look like nothing more than a small notch in the upper lip or they can be a very obvious cleft that goes all the way up to the nose. Cleft lips that extend to the nose are described as “complete,” while those that do not are called “partial” or “incomplete.” The mildest type of a partial cleft lip is sometimes called a “microcleft,” which looks like a small dent in the lip. Cleft lips can also be unilateral or bilateral; in other words, they can occur on one side of the mouth or on both sides. A cleft lip that occurs by itself is sometimes described as “isolated.”
A Look at Cleft Lip Surgery
A cleft lip can only be repaired through cleft lip surgery, and the procedure chosen will depend on the severity of the cleft and whether the patient also has a cleft palate. If the child has a bilateral cleft, they may need to undergo two operations, one for each cleft. However, this depends on the situation.
Contact Our Office Today to Learn More
Our experienced plastic surgeon will typically perform an operation on a child with a cleft lip when they are around nine to eighteen months old. To learn more about cleft lip surgery and to see if your child is a candidate, make an appointment at Hanemann Plastic Surgery in Baton Rouge. Dr. Hanemann and his team would be happy to evaluate the severity of your child’s cleft lip and come up with a customized procedure that can improve your child’s life well into the future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation for cleft lip surgery.