What is Cleft Palate Surgery?
Cleft Palate is similar to the Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate is a deformity involving the mouth of a person. It can be incomplete, unilateral, or bilateral as well. Among 25% to 30% of cleft deformity, Cleft Palate is the bigger cleft problem.
In the Philippines, 1 out of 1500 babies are born with Cleft Palate, making it one of the country’s most common birth defects. Thankfully, the defect is very much treatable and it’s recommended that patients have the condition repaired while in their youth.
How is Cleft Palate Surgery Performed
Cleft Palate Surgery can be complex because of the issues and limitations that come with the defect. Because of this, surgery is done in a multi-step process and is spread over 18 years — with the first step starting when the infant reaches the age of 6 to 12 months.
The tissue and bony structures of the hard and soft palates are located within the alveolar arch, and the only available tissue for closure is at the sides of the palate. From this, a functional palate is created, which reduces the odds of fluid development in the middle of the ears. This also helps in the correct development of teeth and facial bones.
When the patient turns 8, a bone graft may also be needed to complete the upper gum for supporting permanent teeth and stabilizing the upper jaw. Approximately 20% of children with a Cleft Palate may need further surgery and speech therapy in order for their speech capabilities to improve.
After permanent teeth have grown, braces are usually necessary to straighten teeth. More surgeries may be required to seal openings connecting the mouth and nose, aid breathing, and reinforce and realign the jaw. The finishing touches to address scarring left by the initial surgery may most likely begin when the patient reaches adolescence, during which time the facial structure is better developed.
Risks of Cleft Palate Surgery
Anesthesia-associated risks include breathing problems and reactions to the medications. Surgery-associated risks include bleeding, infection, and the need for revisions. Generally, risks of Cleft Palate Surgery are the incorrect growth of bones in the middle of the face and the abnormal connection between the mouth and nose.
Who Can be Considered for Cleft Palate Surgery?
Individuals who have Cleft Palate, especially infants who are between 6 to 12 months old at the most
Facts on Cleft Palate Surgery
- If left untreated, Cleft Palate can cause eating problems, ear infections/hearing loss, speech problems, and dental problems to the affected person
- Completing all steps in one procedure can lead the patient into developing the velopharynx, which is essential for normal speech