Dr. Richard Redett, shown here in surgery,
specializes in cleft lip and palate repair,
among other types of specialized pediatric
plastic and reconstructive surgery.
The most common jaw problem in children is cleft lip and palate, a birth defect in which the tissues and bone inside the mouth do not meet, resulting in a space in the lip and/or palate. Children born with a cleft lip or palate face many issues, including increased susceptibility to ear infections, hearing loss, and speech defects in addition to feeding problems.
Surgery is generally done within the first 12 months after birth. At Johns Hopkins, our reconstructive surgeons can often repair the lip or palate with one surgery, though in some cases, two may be required. Both cleft lip and palate surgery are performed in the hospital under general anesthesia and require a stay of at least one night.
To repair a cleft lip, the plastic surgeon uses a special technique to suture the two sides of the lip together, leaving a scar which blends into the lip. To repair a cleft palate, the plastic surgeon uses tissue from either side of the mouth to fill in the gap, rebuilding the palate.