Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur separately or together
My first experience with Cleft Palate came when I was only four years old. My mother brought home my baby brother from the hospital. He was a whopping 12 lb baby and there was something unusual about him. He had a cleft lip and palate. I still remember my mother's frustrations in trying to get him to take his bottle. The milk spilling back out his nose! Several surgeries later and he was just my "little" brother more noted for his large size than his facial features.
Through my volunteer work with the Medical Advocacy Team, I had the opportunity to help host a baby with cleft palate from Haiti. Little "Lena" arrived on U.S. soil at 5 months of age weighing in at a mere 5 lbs. I had never seen such a fierce and tiny child! Her wrists were smaller than my thumb. Lena's odd "cleft smile" was actually a bit endearing!
Typically closing a cleft lip and palate is done in two phases by a plastic surgeon. The first surgery is to close the exterior lip and the second closes the opening in the roof of the mouth and gum line. I am positive I am oversimplifying the process to a great degree!
|Baby Lena Before Surgery|
|Baby Lena Post Surgery|