A cleft lip is formed when a portion of the upper lip does not join completely during embryonic development. A cleft lip surgery is used to correct the defect which helps to prevent any future complications such as breathing, speaking and eating difficulties. A cleft lip surgery also helps improve your appearance remarkably.
What are the causes for a Cleft Lip?
A cleft lip is caused by unknown factors but is suspected to be related to a genetic disorder.
Cleft lip is usually associated with genetic disorders such as Van der Woude syndrome, Aarskog syndrome, Fryns syndrome, etc. Cleft lip is also suspected to be caused due to maternal exposure to environmental factors such as rubella or medicinal drugs such as anti-seizure drugs, steroids, vitamin A supplements, etc that are taken during the first trimester of the pregnancy which can affect the development of the embryo.
What are the types of Cleft Lips?
Critical structures of the embryo’s mouth are formed during the period between the 4th and 7th week of pregnancy. If this developmental process is disrupted due to any environmental or genetic factor a gap can remain between the lower lip and the nasal structure.
A cleft lip is seen in variety of forms starting with a small groove on the upper lip to a larger gap that begins from the upper lip and includes the nostril and part of the jaw bone (maxilla).
Clefts on the lip are classified into five groups:
- Group I – lip clefts only
- Group II – Palate cleft only
- Group III – lip, alveolus and palate clefts
- Group IV – Lip and alveolus clefts
- Group V – Miscellaneous
What are the surgical procedures for a Cleft Lip surgery?
Maximum results can be achieved if the cleft lip repair surgery is performed at a younger age, particularly between 2-6 months of age.
The surgery requires using general anesthesia and the surgeon marks the anatomical co-ordinates with a removable ink. The surgeon will use a breathing tube (endotracheal tube) to continue respiration.
Of the various surgical approaches used the for a cleft lip surgery the most common is the Millard rotation advancement (R-A) technique. This involves rotating the entire groove in the upper lip and the double curve of the upper lip. The scar matches the central section of the upper lip and is adjusted according to the requirement of the surgical procedure.
The Millard (R-A) procedure begins with an incision running along the edge of the cleft-side of the upper lip’s groove and continuing upward and to the side. A second incision continues to the top of the upper jaw. The extent of the incision will depend on the size of the cleft to be repaired. The second incision allows the surgeon to loosen soft tissues that help to completely lift the lip from the facial bone. The surgeon will free the cartilage from the cleft-side and is repositioned and shaped as required using fine nylon sutures.
What are the risks and complications associated with Cleft Lip surgery?
There are certain risks and complications that are seen in very few cases after a cleft lip surgery such as extensive scarring and contracture on the lips. Keloid or hypertrophic scars can develop and may require additional cosmetic surgery to repair these scars. Minimal revision surgeries can help remove such smaller scars.
What are the advantages and benefits of a Cleft Lip surgery?
The main benefit of the cleft lip surgery is that it helps to improve your appearance. The secondary benefits include prevention of future complications such as breathing, speaking and eating problems from arising. A cleft lip surgery basically improves your appearance and quality of life by avoiding future complications from developing later on.