Your child had surgery to repair birth defects that caused a cleft in which the lip or the roof of the mouth did not grow together normally while your child was in the womb. Your child had general anesthesia (asleep and not feeling pain) for the surgery.
Your child will have a stuffy nose and may have to breathe through their mouth for the first week. There will be some drainage from their mouth and nose. The drainage should go away after about 1 week.
Clean the incision (surgery wound) after feeding your child.
Some stitches will go away on their own. The doctor or nurse will need to take others out at the first follow-up visit. Do not remove your child’s stitches yourself.
You will need to protect your child's incision:
Young infants should be eating only breast milk or formula. When feeding, hold your infant in an upright position.
Use a cup or the side of a spoon for giving your child drinks. If you use a bottle, use only the kind of bottle and nipple that your doctor has recommended.
Older infants or young children will need to have their food softened or pureed (mixed in a blender or food processor) for some time after surgery.
If your child is eating foods other than breast milk or formula, they should be sitting when they eat. Feed them only with a spoon. Do NOT use forks, straws, chopsticks, or other utensils that can harm the incision.
All your child’s foods should be soft and easy to swallow (pureed). Use a blender or food processor to prepare food for your child.
There are many good food choices for your child after surgery. Always make sure the food is cooked until it is soft. Use a blender. Good foods include:
Foods your child should NOT eat:
Your child may play quietly. Keep them from running and jumping until the doctor or nurse says it is okay.
Your child may go home with arm cuffs or splints. These will keep your baby from rubbing or scratching their incision. Your child will need to wear the cuffs most of the time for about 2 weeks. Put on the cuffs over a long-sleeve shirt. If you need to, tape them to the shirt to keep them in place.
Ask your doctor or nurse when it is safe to go swimming. Your child may have tubes in their eardrums and need to keep water out of their ears.
Your doctor or nurse will refer your child to a speech therapist. Most times, speech therapy lasts 2 months.
Call your doctor if:
Orofacial cleft - discharge; Craniofacial birth defect repair - discharge ; Cheiloplasty - discharge; Cleft rhinoplasty - discharge; Palatoplasty - discharge; Tip rhinoplasty - discharge
Arosarena OA. Cleft lip and palate. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007 Feb;40(1):27-60.
Friedman O, Wang TD, Milczuk HA. Cleft lip and palate In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. CummingsOtolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery.5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 186.
Updated by: Hebe Molmenti, M.D., Ph.D., Private Practice specializing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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