Cleft Lip Repair Overview
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.
"I had some plastic surgery done to correct my a creator on head after a traumatic event. Dr Schendel gave me a few options to consider, which resulted with excellent results."- A.K. / Google / May 09, 2018
"I am taking the time to share the positive experiences I have had of Dr. Schendel because it is important that any public information is accurate. Firstly, the doctor went out of his way and..."- A.T. / Yahoo / Dec 03, 2017
"I am taking the time to share the positive experiences I have had of Dr. Schendel because it is important that any public information is accurate. Firstly, the doctor went out of his way and made room in his schedule to consult regarding my 8 year-old daughter's needs when we had no prior relationship with him and oral surgery was imminent. He was gentle with her and honest with me about our choices. His expertise and care allowed me to make the best choice for my child.Secondly, he has cared for more than one individual I hold dear. This family has faced over 20 years of medical intervention and combined, upward of 30 surgeries. Dr. Schendel has been steadfast, consistent, and brilliant in his care of my dear one and her child. As her friend, each time they have faced yet another intense physical challenge or surgery, I have rest assured that she was getting the absolute best treatment because she was in Dr. Schendel's care. The bottom line is I trust him, both to care for my family and those I cherish.Aneea Toomajian PPS, LMFTEducational and Behavioral Consultant"- A.T. / Yelp / Dec 03, 2017
"Dr. Schendel has been my surgeon since I was 15 years old, I am now 44. I have been incredibly grateful for his work and dedication to his field. He has performed several procedures on me to correct a severe unilateral cleft lip and palate. I was referred to him because my clefting was so unusual and other surgeons had been unsuccessful with my case. My cheekbones were non-existent, eye sockets sucken in, jaw extremely recessed, palate permanently open and I had existing scar tissue from previous cosmetic surgery attempts by another surgeon. These are ALL the things Dr. Schendel has fixed with expertise, compassion and dedication. californiacraniofacialin…Over the years, Dr. Schendel has carefully and compassionately rebuilt my face from the inside out. Giving me the bone structure that I was not born with due to the severity of my cranial facial anomalies.When I first met him(I was 14) he excused his entire team of fellows who were there to observe him. He gave me the privacy I needed, handed me a mirror and asked me, "What don't you like about your face?". As a teenager, I was given the space to communicate the things that were great sources of pain. I explained the various things about my cleft lip that caused other kids teased me about. From that moment Dr. Schendel set out to give me a normal face with nothing but determination, dedication and true compassion.Over the years, I have faced other complications with my bone structure and degeneration from my severe cleft. Dr. Schendel has fiercely, carefully and methodically worked to fix the constant erosion and instability in my face. He has striveded to continually find the newest, best techniques available. I have been able to have implants along with bone grafts to retabalize my eroding palate, stem cell procedures to improve the tissue and blood flow to my face and cosmetic revisions-- I have been incredibly grateful and happy with the results.Dr. Schendel's ability to listen and connect with me has been amazing. As a youth, I felt safe, validated and listened too as a patient. As an adult, he has heard my worries and validated the pain I have felt in my face and palate. He has worked tirelessly to fix my cranial facial anomalies. I believe that his ability to be so compassionate and careful with his patients comes from YEARS of working with cleft affected children here and in third world countries. A few years ago, I learned that Dr. Schendel has also volunteered countless hours of surgery in third world countries to operate on children. He has insisted that the surgeries are learning sessions for local doctors in those countries. He has created a learning environment to teach the newest techniques to other physicians in these countries. He also spends months of his own time collecting supplies to take to these countries to donate for the surgeries. Dr. Schendel's passion for rebuilding faces generates from a desire to truly want to help rebuild lives--physically...and emotionally.Our son is also bilaterally cleft affected, he is now 13. Dr. Schendel has revised his soft palate and his lip. It is with tremendous gratitude that we have Dr. Schendel as our son's doctor. His revision is beautiful and his cleft is a non-issue. His speech has also VASTLY improved due to the titrated listening of Dr. Schendel in knowing how to revise our sons palate so skillfully so he can now make sounds like "J" "P" "K". I have referred Dr. Schendel to several family friends for various things that are not cleft related. Not because Dr. Schendel is an incredible oral maxillary and plastic surgeon. But because of his ability to connect with his patients, to hear them, to see them and then to use his dedication to medicine to help them."- V.L. / Yelp / Dec 03, 2017
"Dr. Schendel has been my surgeon since I was 15 years old, I am now 44. I have been incredibly grateful for his work and dedication to his field. He has performed several procedures on me to..."- V.L. / Yahoo / Dec 03, 2017
Cleft Lip Repair Surgical Technique
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.
Cleft Lip Repair During/After Surgery
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.
Cleft Lip Repair Expected Cost
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.