Cleft Lip & Palate

cleft lip surgery

Overview

Cleft lip (cheiloschisis) and cleft palate (palatoschisis), which can also occur together as cleft lip and palate, are variations of a type of clefting congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation. A cleft is a fissure or opening. It is the non-fusion of the body’s natural structures that form before birth.

Approximately 1 in 700 children born has a cleft lip and/or a cleft palate. In decades past, the condition was sometimes referred to as harelip, based on the similarity to the cleft in the lip of a hare, but that term is now generally considered to be offensive.

Clefts can also affect other parts of the face, such as the eyes, ears, nose, cheeks, and forehead. In 1976, Paul Tessier described fifteen lines of cleft. Most of these craniofacial clefts are even rarer and are frequently described as Tessier clefts using the numerical locator devised by Tessier.

A cleft lip or palate can be successfully treated with surgery, especially so if conducted soon after birth or in early childhood.

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