Cleft Lip Surgery (Cheiloplasty)

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1.What is it?

Cleft lip surgery (also called cheiloplasty) is a reconstructive procedure to correct a physical separation or groove-like flaw in the upper lip. The degree of separation or split varies depending on the severity of the condition. In cases where the separation extends into the base of the nostril – an opening between the oral and nasal cavities is visible. Fortunately, most clefts can be repaired through cosmetic plastic surgery techniques to provide significant improvement in quality of life as well as to restore normal appearance and function.

2.Who needs it?

Cleft lip repair/surgery is suited to those predisposed with these types of upper lip flaws. Cleft lip can be on one side of the nose (unilateral cleft lip) or on both sides of the nose (bilateral cleft lip). A complete cleft lip is when the split extends right up and into the base of the nostril. An incomplete cleft lip is when the split in the upper lip does not extend up to the nose.

3.Surgery Procedure

The aim of cleft lip surgery is to close the separation in the upper lip. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia. Depending on the severity of the cleft lip, incisions are made on either side of the cleft up to and into the nostril. If the nose is shaped abnormally due to the cleft lip, this is also corrected. The outer portion of the separated tissue and muscle (i.e. where the incision took place) will be pulled down and the skin of the lip will be stitched together to close the gap in the lip. To minimize visibility, scars are generally positioned following the contours of the upper lip and nose.