Genetics can sometimes be cruel. For various reasons, some people’s DNA gets jumbled in the womb, making for awkward and disfigured body parts. Two of the most common congenital defects include cleft palates and lips. Modern science and medicine has made it possible to correct many cosmetic and physical congenital defects by means of plastic surgery.
Cleft lips and palates occur in roughly one out of every 800 births. A cleft lip means that the right and left sides of the lip have not grown together as they should. In some cases, it can look like a whole piece of skin is simply missing right below one of the nostrils to the bottom of the upper lip. There can even be cleft on both sides of the lip in severe cases. A cleft palate is when the roof of the mouth has not fully grown together, leaving a space or whole at the back of the palate. Both of these conditions can cause serious problems for people in childhood and adulthood if not corrected. They may have a difficult time eating most foods, learning how to speak properly and they may contract frequent ear infections and other illnesses.
In order to fix a cleft lip, children must be at least two and a half to three months old. A plastic surgeon will manually pull and stitch the skin together like the DNA should have done in the first place. The cosmetic surgeon makes a cut on either side of the cleft reaching up into the nostril. The skin and muscle is then stretched together and sown up in the cosmetic surgery to create one uniform piece of skin across the upper lip.
For those with cleft palates, the plastic surgery is much more complex and extensive. Most plastic surgeons will wait until a child is at least nine or ten months old before attempting the surgery. The procedure involves cutting the tissue on either side of the cleft separation. The surgeon then brings the tissue and muscle from both sides together and sutures them in place.
Recovery from both procedures involves pain and soreness at the plastic surgery sites. The cosmetic surgeon will provide the patient with a prescription for pain managing medication that should deaden the pain during the healing process. If the procedure is performed on a child, the doctor may require the use of elbow restraints to refrain the young one from creating more pain by rubbing or scratching the repaired areas. After cleft lip surgery, the cosmetic surgeon will instruct you to remove the bandages after a day or two. The stitches will either dissolve or the doctor will pull them out after several days. After cleft palate surgery, the patient may not be able to eat normal foods or comfortably drink on his or her own, so many will have to be fed with intravenous tubes for the first couple days.
Even though surgery always comes with risks and the recovery is never fun, it is amazing what cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery can accomplish for those with cleft lips and palates. In many cases, their scars will fade to be almost imperceptible and they may learn to speak just as clearly as the any other person. Modern plastic surgery has made it possible for those born with lip and palate deformities to lead normal, unaffected lives!