A cleft lip and cleft palate are congenital facial deformations that occur during pregnancy when the baby is still developing. A cleft lip represents a physical separation, or split, of the upper lip that can extend to or beyond the bottom of the nose. A cleft palate involves a split in the roof of the mouth. These conditions can occur on either side of the mouth, and may develop alone or together. Advances in medical technology have made it possible to restore a natural appearance and normal function to the mouth and lip with oral and facial reconstructive surgery. Palo Alto plastic and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Steven Schendel, is a cleft lip and cleft palate repair specialist and performs both cheiloplasty and palatoplasty. During the initial consultation these surgeries will be discussed in detail and a treatment plan will outline the surgical recommendations that will produce the most natural outcome.
Cheiloplasty and Palatoplasty
Cheiloplasty is a reconstructive surgery that repairs a cleft or split lip. Palatoplasty is a similar surgery that repairs a cleft palate Cheiloplasty and palatoplasty improve the appearance of the face as well as prevent problems with breathing, eating, speaking, hearing, and the development of teeth. A chelioplasty is generally performed in the first few months after birth, when the baby is at least 10 pounds. A palatoplasty is usually performed when the baby is between 6 and 18 months old.
"Dr. Schendel is helping me feel like myself again after a tumor changed my life. - I am 28F and was diagnosed with a rare pituitary tumor resulting in a condition called acromegaly in 2015. Because of this condition my brow grew, the soft tissue in my face increased and the right side of my jaw grew asymmetrically which resulted in a quickly developed underbite. After surgically controlling the tumor by an SF neurosurgeon to ensure no more growth would occur, my husband and..."- B. / RealSelf / Apr 28, 2017
"Best decision I ever made! - Best decision I ever made was to have a mid-face lift with Dr. Schendel. He listened to my concerns and came up with a strategy that I would be pleased with. Dr. Schendel has a great bedside manner and put my fears to rest pre-surgery. He and his staff were very attentive post surgery as well. I look renewed and refreshed not "done". I no longer cringe when I look in the mirror. Thank you for giving me a decade+ back."- C. / RealSelf / Mar 24, 2017
"Dr. Schendal is a consummate professional with a warm caring disposition. He is held in very high regard by everyone I spoke to at Stanford Hospital. I had absolute confidence in him and my surgery held no surprises due to the care he took in explaining everything and setting realistic expectations. His post op care was just as good."- L.G. / Healthgrades / Oct 23, 2016
"Dr. Schendel is a great doctor. My family and I have been fortunate enough to be under Dr. Schendel's care for many years. He has been helping me look and feel beautiful since my 50th bday... many years ago. He and his staff are wonderful in every way. His office manager, Carol Oderio, and everyone in his office treat you with the greatest care and make sure everything is perfect:) Dr. Schendel is able to enhance your beauty in an amazing way, all while looking very natural."- J.H. / Yelp / Mar 14, 2016
"I've been getting Botox from Dr. Schendel for several years - and I still look forward to my appointments because he always manages to make me smile and laugh. The office is clean, easily located by the freeway, and the staff is courteous and always prompt."- C.R. / Yelp / Nov 01, 2015
In cleft lip surgery, incisions are made on each side of the cleft and the lip is sewn together to form a normal and symmetrical upper mouth. The muscles in the upper lip are also aligned so the lips are able to function properly. Similarly, in cleft palate surgery, incisions are made on each side of the cleft and the three layers of the roof of the mouth are sewn together. The muscles are aligned for proper use during speech, eating, and swallowing. During a palatoplasty, the nose and mouth cavities are also separated to allow normal face growth and tooth development. A second surgery may be needed or wanted for further repairs or to improve appearance.
Cheiloplasty and palatoplasty are performed as an inpatient surgery in an accredited surgical facility under general anesthesia. Because of the young age of the patients and the nature of the surgery, our patients usually stay for 1-3 nights following the procedure. After surgery, an IV is used to feed and hydrate the patient until the patient is able to drink normally. Medication can be used to manage any pain and discomfort. Arm restraints may be used to keep the patient from scratching or irritating the stitches, which could cause infection or disrupt healing. Patients can expect to have bruising and swelling around the mouth and nose that will heal within 2-3 weeks. The results following this surgery are life changing, especially for parents. Over time, a very light scar will remain, but the long-term outcome results in a very normal facial appearance.
Each cheiloplasty and palatoplasty procedure can cost between $5,000-$10,000. Insurance usually covers the cost of treatment, but our billing coordinators will verify all coverage and this will be discussed during the treatment consultation. There are also several groups that provide financial assistance to those who need cleft lip or cleft palate repair.
Plan Your Procedure
- Average Cost
- $5,000 - $10,000
- Recovery Time
- 2-3 Weeks
- Average Procedure Time
- Post-op Follow-up
- Procedure Recovery Location
What Causes This?
There is no clear cause of why a cleft lip or palate develops before a baby is born and there are no preventative measures. Each year in America, almost 7,000 babies are born with a cleft lip or palate. A cleft lip or palate does not mean that your child will have other mental or physical problems.
Children with a cleft lip or palate are prone to hearing problems, so regular visits to an ear, nose, and throat specialist are recommended. Speech problems are also common, but can be resolved with speech therapy. As teeth come in, a dentist or orthodontist should check them so any needed corrections are treated early.
How Bad is the Scar?
The scar will fade, but still be visible. When possible, incisions and stitches are made along existing face lines to minimize noticeability. To prevent further irritation, sunscreen should always be used on the scar when outside.