Many parents decide to have cleft lip surgery for their child as soon as medically possible; which is generally within the first several months of life. However, some parents may put off cleft lip surgery if the cleft lip does not impose upon the child’s feeding at the time, when other medical issues prevent the child from undergoing surgery in the early months of life, or for various other reasons. When cleft lip surgery is performed later in life there are several treatments that will go along with the cleft lip surgery.
Treatments Combined with Cleft Lip Surgery
Your child will have an entire medical team ready to assist in the pre-op and post-op stages of cleft lip surgery. This team will most likely follow your child’s case for several years even after the surgery has been performed-and with reason.
If you have chosen to delay the cleft lip surgery for any reason, there may be factors of treatment that will be necessary following the cleft lip surgery. A team of medical professionals will guide you and your child with assessments, evaluations and treatments.
Follow-Up with the Surgeon
One of the specialists you can expect to encounter will be, of course, the surgeon. He will want to follow up on the progress of the healing and evaluate if any further surgery is needed.
Possible Dentistry Treatments after Cleft Lip Surgery
The dentist will be a key player in the treatment of post-op cleft lip surgery as well. Depending upon how long the cleft lip surgery was delayed, there may have been issues with the natural rupture of the teeth. If your child does not appear to have any abnormalities with his/her teeth, then you can expect for your child to be treated by the dentist as would any other child.
Speech Therapy and Treatment from an Audiologist
A speech therapist will often play a big role in your child’s life, especially throughout the grade school years. A cleft lip can cause speech delays for the child. For some children the surgery alone can cure this issue. A speech therapist can work with the child prior to and after the surgery to help treat speech problems. An audiologist may also be a part of your child’s care team and treatment will be in conjunction with the speech therapist.
The Role of the ENT and Nurse Coordinator
Of course a good ENT doctor will play an integral part of the cleft lip care team for your child. The doctor along with a nurse coordinator will coordinate the rest of the team and will all work together to ensure that your child is receiving all necessary treatments associated with pre-op and post-op cleft lip surgery.
Your child’s encounters with these specialists will be based on a case-by-case basis. When surgery is performed within the first several months of surgery, many complications may be avoided. However, depending on the severity of the cleft lip, it is possible that the medical team will be a part of your child’s life for several years after the cleft lip surgery has been performed.