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School of Medicine
Cleft Lip and Palate
Children born with a cleft lip or palate face many issues, including increased susceptibility to ear infections, hearing loss, feeding problems and speech defects. Our reconstructive surgeons help patients achieve their full potential, without being defined or limited by facial differences (or birth defects).
What You Need to Know:
- Cleft lip and/or palate are one of the most common congenital facial differences (or birth defects) in children.
- This birth difference arises when the tissues and bone inside the mouth does not fuse properly, resulting in a space in the upper lip and/or palate.
- Both cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries are performed in the hospital under general anesthesia and usually 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.
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.
Why choose Johns Hopkins?
The Johns Hopkins Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is staffed by surgeons who specialize in different techniques of surgery, such as craniofacial surgery, microvascular surgery, nerve transplantation and bone transplantation. Some of our fellowship-trained plastic surgeons, including pediatric surgeons, specialize in facial reconstruction. Over years of practice, they have built a reputation as being among the best facial reconstruction surgeons in the country. They have learned about and, in many cases, developed and taught the latest and most effective surgical techniques.
Our Specialty Center
The Cleft and Craniofacial Center harnesses the expertise of plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, speech and language pathologists, dentists and orthodontists, geneticists, otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat or ENT doctors) and a nurse coordinator, all of whom specialize in cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial conditions.
Our Patient Care
We provide compassionate and expert care that addresses not only the physical, but also the emotional needs, of our patients and their families.
- Hear why one Baltimore family chose Johns Hopkins for the treatment of their children's cleft lip.
- When Guy was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, Felicia and Gavin didn’t know what to expect. Read their testimonial of Guy’s experience with the cleft clinic at Johns Hopkins