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Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

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Surgery for Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

Surgery for cleft lip and palate can vary depending on the severity of the cleft.  Cleft lip is usually repaired within the first year of life (often at three to six months of age) and cleft palate is typically repaired within the first 18 months.  Many children will need additional surgeries as they get older.

Surgery to close a cleft lip is often performed between three to six months of age and involves physically closing the split and creating symmetry (so that the lips and nose appear balanced and symmetrical).

Surgery to place ear tubes in children with cleft palate may be done at the same time as the cleft lip is repaired, to avoid a second surgery.

Surgery to repair a cleft palate may be initially performed by 18 months, but additional surgeries are often needed to make additional corrections and repairs as the child grows.

Children born with cleft lip/cleft palate often require multiple surgeries and procedures over the course of several years. They are best treated at a major medical center with a multidisciplinary Craniofacial Program so that the various specialists required can work together on a unified treatment plan.

Find out more about the Craniofacial Program at the Weill Cornell Medicine Pediatric Otolaryngology service.

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Reviewed by Vikash Modi, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: January 2019