Cleft lip repair is surgery to fix a split (cleft) in the lip. The doctor made a cut (incision) along the edges of the cleft lip extending up into the nose. He or she used stitches to bring the cut edges together to shape the upper lip and nostrils.
Your child may need pain medicine for the first few days after surgery. The area around your child's mouth will be swollen for the first week or two after surgery. He or she may be more fussy than usual.
Most children are back to their usual behaviour about a week after surgery. It usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks for the incision to heal. The incision will leave a pink or red scar. You can expect the scar to feel hard and tight at first. The scar should fade and become softer and flatter in the months and years after surgery.
Your child may need to wear a wire guard across his or her upper lip. This helps prevent the lip from stretching and protects the stitches from breaking or the skin edges from separating. Your child also may need to wear splints on his or her arms. The splints keep your child's arms straight so that he or she cannot rub the incision while it heals. Your child may need to wear the lip guard and arm splints for 10 to 14 days. If your child has a lip guard or arm splints, it is important that he or she wear them for as long as your doctor recommends.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.
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Current as of: March 27, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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