American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Cleft Lip and Palate Repair

Correcting Abnormal Development

Cleft lip repair and cleft palate repair are types of surgery used to correct this abnormal development and are meant to restore function to the lips and mouth along with producing a more normal appearance.

Cleft repair surgery risks and safety

The repair of a cleft lip and/or palate is important for your child's development and quality of life. Your plastic surgeon will explain the benefits, goals and potential risks or complications. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure, the alternatives and the most likely risks or potential complications.

Possible cleft surgery risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Poor healing of incisions
  • Irregular healing of scars including shortening, thickening or overgrowth
  • Residual irregularities and asymmetries in the lip or nose
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Respiratory problems after surgery
  • Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, topical preparations or injected agents
  • Damage to deeper structures—such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles and auditory canal can occur and may be temporary or permanent
  • Possibility of revisional surgery


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