A cleft palate typically is repaired surgically at birth by cleft palate surgery. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will rearrange and fix the soft tissue of the palate to make it more useful for speech. He or she will also make the bone of the palate grow in such a way that it is able to support the tongue.
The procedure usually does not cause any major or minor damage to the bones or tissues surrounding the mouth. In some instances, minor surgical intervention may be required to correct the deformity, but the general outcome of this operation is often positive.
The majority of cosmetic deformities are not permanent, and most of these deformities can be corrected without requiring major surgical intervention. However, the medical history of a patient’s cleft, if available, may be used to determine the best possible treatment course for the particular situation.
Cleft palate deformities may be caused by an underlying health condition. This condition can cause excessive damage to the brain or the spine. Patients with a family history of cleft should be screened for this condition. If a family history of cleft is found, it may be wise to proceed with a preoperative medical examination and assessment in order to determine whether there is anything that can be done for the child.
Sometimes a minor deformity that is not serious can be corrected without the need for surgery. An example of a mild cleft is a slight increase in the size of one or both of a child’s ears. In some cases, an ear lobe might have been removed because it is too small for a child. Once the child has grown into adulthood, the ear might become too large for him or her. A plastic surgeon can perform cleft palate surgery that will increase the size of the ear and thereby eliminate the need for corrective surgery later on.
Proper diet is a critical part of successful surgery. It is important for children to receive a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. Even if the child is fed with a feeding tube, a healthy diet that is rich in iron, calcium, proteins, and vitamin A is still necessary.
Children who receive adequate nutrition from their mother’s milk are more likely to grow up to have normal intelligence and healthy immune systems. Cleft palate surgery is also very effective when it comes to the proper development of the child’s facial muscles.
A healthy child can enjoy a life free from deformity. Because there are many ways to correct cleft palate deformity, a young child is less likely to suffer permanent deformity from the surgery.