What is cleft palate repair?

Cleft palate repair is a surgical procedure to correct a cleft, or split, in the roof of the mouth (palate). This condition is a common congenital condition that occurs when the roof of the mouth doesn't fuse properly during fetal development. The surgery aims to close the gap in the palate, improving speech and eating capabilities and limiting developmental differences that can affect appearance.

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A Reconstructive Expert

Dr. Davidson discusses his dedication to reconstructive surgery.

Reconstructive Services at Palm Beach Plastic Surgery Institute
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What can cleft palate repair treat?

Cleft palate repair can correct:

  • Difficulty with speech development caused by the cleft.
  • Problems with eating and drinking where food or liquid can pass into the nasal cavity.
  • Ear infections or hearing loss are often associated with cleft palates.
  • Alignment of teeth.
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The cleft palate repair experience

Cleft care is a journey that begins even before birth; our team offers pre-natal meetings with expectant families to discuss what to expect, and we provide support and guidance during the perinatal period. Our multidisciplinary team cares for patients with clefts from initial cleft repair surgery through adolescence and adulthood with treatments designed to improve appearance, speech, dental health, and overall development.

We work as part of a multidisciplinary team including a cleft care coordinator, cleft surgeon, genetic counselor, geneticist, pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT), speech pathologist, pediatric dentist, orthodontist, audiologist, social worker, psychologist and pediatrician.

The goal of our team is to help your child achieve his/her full potential without being limited or defined by a facial difference. Our team are experts in revision palate repair and secondary speech surgery. Sometimes, even after initial cleft repair, children may struggle with speech due to a condition known as velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI). This is where the soft palate doesn't close against the back of the throat during speech, leading to hypernasality or nasal sounding speech.

Secondary speech surgery aims to correct VPI, improving speech quality and clarity. This may be performed at any age, if a patient has developed VPI. Our cleft care team includes speech language pathologists that work closely with the surgeon to guide treatment.

We also perform alveolar bone grafting to repair the cleft in gum. This is typically performed when the child is 7 to 9 years old, depending on the pattern of tooth eruption. It involves adding bone to the gum ridge in the cleft area. This procedure can help stabilize the maxillary arch and support the permanent teeth, enhancing dental function and facial appearance. Our cleft care team includes orthodontists that work closely with the surgeon to guide treatment.

At every stage, Palm Beach Plastic Surgery Institute provides a supportive, compassionate environment, ensuring patients and their families access the best care, resources, and support. Dr. Davidson and his team are committed to creating positive outcomes, ensuring that every patient feels valued and cared for throughout their journey from childhood to adulthood.

How is the surgery performed?

A cleft in the palate is typically repaired at 12-15 months of age. The reason for lip repair is predominantly to enable development of normal speech. The surgeon makes incisions on either side of the cleft and rearranges the tissues to close the gap. Importantly the muscle that lifts the palate is repositioned to the correct anatomic position to allow for correct palatal movement during speech. The procedure usually takes about 2 hours and is performed under general anesthesia. Our surgical team use the most advanced techniques to recreate a functional palate and limit disruption to growth.

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What is the recovery for cleft palate repair?

After cleft palate surgery in Palm Beach, your child will likely experience some swelling and discomfort, which can be managed with medication. A special arm restraint may be used to prevent your child from touching the surgical area. Feeding will be adjusted to avoid pressure on the surgical site. Patients spend one to two nights in the hospital for monitoring.

Why choose Palm Beach Plastic Surgery Institute?

At Palm Beach Plastic Surgery Institute, we are committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care for children requiring cleft palate repair in West Palm Beach. Our team is led by a board-certified plastic surgeon with specialist fellowship training in cleft and craniofacial surgery and over a decade of experience. All surgical care is provided at the region’s leading children’s hospital by dedicated pediatric specialists.

Our partnership with the Palm Beach Plastic Surgery Foundation allows us to provide financial assistance for treatment of congenital facial differences, making quality plastic surgery accessible to those who need help, regardless of financial circumstances. It is commitment to personalized care sets Palm Beach Plastic Surgery Institute apart. The boutique concierge practice ensures that patients and families receive individualized attention, from the initial consultation to post-operative follow-ups.

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