Some babies are born with cleft palates. A cleft palate occurs when a child's face and soft palate don't develop normally. Instead of fusing together, their palate remains split in two distinct pieces. Babies with cleft palates will sometimes have an opening in the center of their lip. Craniofacial surgery can be used to repair cleft palates. Here are four things parents should know about this type of surgery:
Your doctor will advise you on the best time for your child to have surgery.
It's best for children to have craniofacial surgery when they're still infants. When children have cleft palates repaired at a young age, their bodies will have the chance to develop normally. They will also be able to learn to speak in the typical way, without speech impediments. Some craniofacial surgeons think it's best for babies to have the operation before they're one year old since they likely won't remember the operation or the recovery. Your craniofacial surgeon will advise you on the best age for your child to have their surgery.
Your child's surgery will likely be covered by your insurance.
If your child has health insurance, their plan will likely cover the cost of cleft palate surgery and cleft lip surgery. While these surgeries are technically plastic surgery, they are not considered elective since a cleft palate interferes with the function of the human body. If you want to find out more details about how much of the cost is covered by your insurance, you can call your insurance company and speak to a representative about the exact cost.
You will need to help your child protect the surgical site after their procedure.
Infants can't understand the implications of surgery or the healing they must undergo after it's over. It's important that your child doesn't scratch or rub their stitches since that can cause pain, injury, or an infection. Your surgeon may recommend a device that will keep your child's arms immobile so they don't accidentally scratch their face. Older children can be trusted not to scratch themselves, but you will still need to monitor them and make sure they don't play games that could injure their face during healing.
Your doctor will see your child for a follow-up visit.
Your child's body should heal within a few weeks after their cleft palate surgery. You will need to attend one or more follow-up appointments either with your craniofacial surgeon or your regular doctor. They will monitor your child's healing to ensure everything is proceeding as planned.