Lip Cleft Surgery

Cleft lip and palate are one of the most common congenital defects of the head and neck. It can reach under the nostrils and lip on one or both sides, extending through the alveolar arch, hard palate and the entire soft palate.

It is not uncommon for patients with this type of deformity to develop soft tissue and cartilage disorders of the nasal wings and nasal dome. The type and extent of the cleft are important when choosing a surgical procedure. Due to the anomalies that are visible on the face, there is often a feeling of inferiority, isolation and fear, which can all affect the success of children in school. Timely intervention provides mental peace, both for the child and for the parents. It usually takes several procedures to achieve satisfactory results. In terms of age, the optimal time to close a cleft lip is 3 to 6 months, and a cleft palate is about 18 months of age, before the child speaks.


During the consultation with Dr. Smiljanic, the doctor will suggest the best method of correction, introduce you to possible complications and tell you what preoperative preparation is necessary (tests and findings).


The operation lasts about 2 hours and is performed under general anesthesia. When closing the lip, the surrounding tissue is mobilized. Reconstruction of the floor of the nostrils is performed, followed by shaping of the lips. Closing the palate ensures normal speech. After refreshing the edges of the cleft, layers are formed, which separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity. Deformities of the nose and face are done after the complete completion of the growth of bones and cartilage. Today’s methods ensure functional muscle restoration, preservation and shaping of the natural features of the lip, correction of the nose and a less noticeable scar. The results of cheiloplasty, in unilateral clefts, are still better than in bilateral cleft lip.


There is a possibility, although rare, of infections, bleeding and swelling. These are normal symptoms that subside after a few days. These complications are rare and can usually be avoided. If pain occurs, after the procedure, it is alleviated with appropriate medication.


The patient stays in the hospital for 24 hours. The sutures are removed after 7-14 days. It is very important to take plenty of fluids in the first few days, and later porridge.