At Lurie Children’s, plastic & reconstructive surgeons, ear, nose and throat physicians, audiologists, oral surgeons, dentists, orthodontists, speech therapists, psychologists, social workers, fetal health specialists and genetics specialists work together to provide a full spectrum of care to children with cleft lip and cleft palate from birth through adulthood.
The Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has extensive expertise in treating children with cleft lip and palate. Our plastic surgeons are highly specialized and each has pursued extensive training in the full spectrum of care of children with cleft lip and palate, enabling them to guide the care of these children from birth through adulthood.
A cleft lip or cleft palate (the roof of the mouth) is a condition in which parts of the lip and/or palate do not develop properly early in pregnancy. When there is a cleft lip present, often it can be seen on prenatal ultrasounds. Because an infant’s lips and palate develop separately, it is possible for a child to be born with a cleft lip only, cleft palate only, or both.
A cleft lip is typically repaired when the baby is between 3 to 6 months old; a cleft palate is typically repaired at 9 to 12 months of age. Our goal in repairing a cleft lip is to bring together the separation in the lip so that the lips function well and appear normal. Our goal in repairing a cleft palate is to reconstruct the roof of the mouth so normal feeding and speech development can occur. In both procedures, we are committed to restoring the lip and palate to normal appearance and function.
In addition to patient care, we are also committed to research. Lurie Children’s has initiated the Craniofacial Developmental Biology Laboratory at Lurie Children’s Research Center, headed by Arun Gosain, MD, with a team of dedicated researchers. This research team includes doctors specializing in plastic surgery, and specialties of basic sciences that help them to understand the cause of craniofacial anomalies. Together, our team of surgeons, nurses and researchers are involved in several key national organizations dedicated to the treatment, care and causes of cleft lip and palate.