Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery with Dr. Walter Erhardt in Albany, Georgia

cleft-lip-palate-repairCleft lip and cleft palate are two of the most commonly occurring birth defects in the U.S. They occur when the lip and/or roof of the mouth do not grow together properly as an unborn child is developing in the womb.

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Walter Erhardt specializes in cleft lip and cleft palate repair. Through advanced techniques, Dr. Erhardt can dramatically improve your child's quality of life.

Benefits of Cleft Palate Lip and Palate Repair

  • Corrects problems related to difficult breathing, eating or breastfeeding.
  • Improves communication and speech development.
  • Decreases the likelihood of colds, cavities and ear infections.
  • Offers children a sense of confidence and well-being in their appearance.

Cleft repair surgery can be performed on children as young as three months, while palate repair can be performed on children as young as nine months. Generally speaking, the earlier surgery is performed, the better the results. During the consultation process with Dr. Erhardt, he will be able to determine if and when cleft lip or palate repair is right for your son or daughter.

How Cleft Lip and Palate Repair Works

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A team of specialists will often work together to repair cleft lip and/or palate, as a lot is riding on their proper restoration, such as a child's ability to speak, eat, and breathe comfortably. These specialists may include: A plastic surgeon, a pediatrician, a pediatric dentist, an otolaryngologist, auditory or hearing specialists, a speech pathologist, and a social worker.

Your consultation: In order to determine if your child is a good candidate for reconstruction, you and your child will need to meet with Dr. Erhardt for a consultation visit. The consultation will include a physical examination as well as an in-depth discussion of your child's medical history and reconstructive goals. 

Surgery: Cleft lip and palate repair is typically performed in a hospital with a general anesthetic. In most cases, only one operation is required to correct the problem. During surgery, Dr. Erhardt will repair the soft palate musculature by repositioning the abnormally aligned tissues. The separated tissues will be brought together and secured with sutures. Cleft lip incisions are made on either side of the cleft, while cleft palate incisions are inside of the mouth.

Healing time: Recovery usually takes about a month. Following surgery, Dr. Erhardt will provide you with specific aftercare and hygiene instructions. It is likely that the mouth area will be swollen for several days. Antibiotics and pain medications should be administered as necessary. Sutures will be removed within a week. Children should be restricted from toys that may cause unintentional injury to the treated area for several weeks.

Expected Results: Following a full recovery, it will be easier for your child to function and develop normally. Your child may need to undergo additional scar repair surgeries later in life to achieve a more normalized appearance. It is important to keep in mind that reconstruction surgery is only the beginning of the process. Family support and love is critical for your child to grow up with self-esteem that extends beyond physical deformity.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Erhardt

If you're ready to learn more about cleft lip and palate repair, call 229-432-9325 to inquire about a consultation with Dr. Erhardt. Our plastic surgery practice is located at 506 Fourth Avenue, Albany, GA 31701.