Cleft Palate Repair
Repair of the hard and soft palate is typically performed between 9-12 months of age. An Otolaryngologist (E.N.T.) will most likely also place tubes in the ears at the start of the procedure to treat pressure and fluid accumulation behind the eardrum, which is very common in children with cleft palates.
During the cleft palate repair, tissue is moved from the intact lateral roof of the mouth to the center where the cleft is located. Muscles in the soft palate are also reoriented to improve their function with speech.
Arm splints are used for 3 weeks following surgery to keep fingers and objects out of the mouth so as not to disrupt the healing process. Feeding takes more effort, and while the Haberman is fine to use following surgery, syringe feeding and cup drinking may also be needed. A liquid, pureed, and very soft diet is recommended for 3 weeks.
A fistula or residual hole in the roof of the mouth can occur following cleft palate repair if there is inadequate tissue, excessive tension, or healing problems from trauma or dehiscence.