Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and cleft palate are relatively common congenital defects. This reconstructive surgery is critical to a child’s breathing, eating, and speech formation.

The goal of cleft lip surgery is to create an aesthetically pleasing lip and nose. The repair is performed around the age of three months.

Cleft palate repairs are important, as the palate is the structure that allows us to speak clearly. Therefore, it is corrected around 10-12 months of age, when a child is beginning the process of learning to speak.

The average child with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate will require multiple procedures in their lifetime. At The Waldorf Center, we enjoy seeing these children grow, and continuing to help as their needs change through the years.

Your Child’s Consultation

We believe you need to be well-informed about the reconstructive procedure. That includes the processes of preparing your child for the procedure, and care during the recovery period. The surgeon will meet with you about your concerns and goals. The surgeon will then examine your child, and base their opinion on how to achieve the reconstructive goals based on best practices, and how the procedure will affect your child.

Choosing a surgeon for your child is an intensely personal decision. We encourage you to take time to question the physician, and their team. We believe the formation of a personal bond is an integral part of the surgery and healing process.

The Surgery

Cleft lip and/or cleft palate repair typically involves a series of operations as your child’s growth and development demand. The first operation closes the cleft(s) in the lip and/or palate.

The initial reconstructive surgery usually takes 1 to 2 hours of time, and is performed with general anesthesia. Your child will stay in the hospital overnight after the surgery. Healing continues for several weeks, and swelling goes down over time.


The time to recover will depend on the extent of reconstruction. Arm restraints are used during the recovery period to ensure your child does not touch the healing site or suck his or her thumb. Most children are able to resume a non-strenuous home schedule in 1 week. Most can return to strenuous activity levels in 8 weeks.


Cleft lip and cleft palate repair, as with all surgical procedures, carries a certain amount of risk. It is important that you understand these risks, and the possible complications or adverse events, associated with them. Your surgeon will discuss any risks with you during your child’s consultation and pre-operative appointments.

Contact The Waldorf Center for Plastic Surgery in Portland, Oregon

Schedule a consultation for cleft lip and palate today. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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