We do cleft palate repair between the ages of nine and 18 months in order to allow time for your child’s facial structures to grow. Waiting leads to a better overall repair of the bones and muscles that help your child speak.
The information in this handout will help you plan for what to expect as your child recovers from surgery.
Your surgeon’s repair of your child’s palate involves the floor of the nasal passage, the reconnection, and repair of the muscle on the top of the mouth (velopharyngeal muscle) and the roof of the mouth. This will close the cleft, allowing the development of speech and improving feeding abilities.
All the parts necessary to repair the palate are present in your child. The tissue on either side of the cleft on the roof of the mouth is divided and moved to the center.
Because a layer of tissue has been moved, it might look like the defects have moved to the side of the cleft. These will look like grooves on either side of the palate. But since these defects don’t go through all the layers of the palate as they did before, this will fill in as the palate heals.
The area around the incision (the cut your surgeon makes) will swell as it heals. The swelling will be the worst the day after surgery and then will gradually go away. You’ll be able to see the sutures (stitches used to close up the site where surgery was done) in your child’s mouth. These will dissolve on their own and do NOT need to be removed.
A complete list of instructions for taking care of your child at home will be given to you before you leave the hospital. The main things to remember are: