A cleft lip is a common birth defect that occurs when the upper lip of an unborn baby does not close completely. Turner P. Emery, DDS, MD is a member of the cleft and craniofacial team at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, TN. He has performed many successful cleft lip surgeries and understands the emotional issues that parents face when their newborn needs to undergo a surgical procedure. With compassion and empathy, Dr. Emery helps patients feel confident. He will answer all your questions and discuss your concerns so you will know exactly what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.
About Cleft Lip
It is estimated that one baby out of every 902 has a cleft lip. The condition occurs early during fetal development. Usually, the cause of the condition is not known. Some infants with a cleft lip also have a cleft palate, as these two congenital conditions often occur together. A cleft lip can develop on one side of the nose (unilateral) or on both sides (bilateral). Cleft lip is completely treatable in most cases. The procedure to repair a cleft lip is known as cheiloplasty.
A team of doctors will work with you to create a treatment plan for your baby. Most often, the team will involve your pediatrician, an oral surgeon like Dr. Emery, an ENT, and a lactation specialist.
It is important for parents to understand the lifelong benefits of repairing a cleft lip. After corrective surgery, babies who had a cleft lip will have an improved ability to breathe, eat, hear, and speak clearly. A child may also avoid dental issues that would develop when teeth begin to erupt.
Appearance improves as well. After repairing a cleft lip, a small scar will remain, but the obvious appearance of the initial defect will be corrected. Subsequent surgeries can improve the appearance of the curves beneath the nose, known as the Cupid’s bow, and create an aesthetically pleasing distance between the nose and upper lip. The shape and symmetry of the nose can also be addressed with plastic surgery.
Your baby will probably undergo a surgical procedure after the first two months of life, but before six months of age, unless other medical issues take priority. Some infants need preoperative procedures, such as preparation for orthodontics or cleft lip taping. After the initial surgeries, as your little one grows, additional surgeries may be recommended. Children born with a cleft lip may have issues with fluid in the ears, bone development in the face, or dental development.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have or will give birth to a child with a cleft lip, contact Knoxville Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery online or call one of our offices today to book a consultation with Dr. Emery. He has helped many children to experience the vast benefits of cleft lip surgery, and is dedicated to providing the compassionate care your little one deserves. He will take the time to answer all your questions, discuss your concerns, and explain cleft lip surgery to you.