First and foremost, congratulations! The birth of a child is perhaps the most amazing thing that will ever happen to a couple. The first thing you need to know is that your baby will have a happy, healthy life. Dr. Obaid and Dr. Ver Halen see babies with cleft lips from all over the Dallas/Fort Worth area. In their experience, plastic surgery and craniofacial surgery have advanced to the point that they can repair cleft lips and noses with very good results. For the vast majority of babies, cleft lips and/or palates are the only health problems these babies have. Once they are taken care of, children lead otherwise totally normal, healthy lives.
Dr. Obaid and Dr. Ver Halen see many children with cleft lips. They typically perform a repair of the cleft lip at three months of age. If a baby is born prematurely or has difficulty growing or gaining weight, your surgeon may delay the repair a few weeks. It is important that you make an appointment early to see Dr. Obaid or Dr. Ver Halen, so he can assess your baby’s overall health and determine the optimal time for surgery. If you are travelling from outside the Dallas/Fort Worth area to see Dr. Obaid or Dr. Ver Halen, please plan on making an appointment sooner rather than later to allow for surgery scheduling and travel planning.
Your surgeon will perform the cleft lip repair at three months of age. A cleft palate cannot be repaired until the child is a bit older. Dr. Obaid and Dr. Ver Halen typically repair the cleft palate at a second surgery at 9 to 12 months of age.
Your surgeon will keep your baby overnight in the hospital after their cleft lip repair. Most babies have a return of appetite the night of the surgery. You will be able to bottle feed your baby that night. Provided that your baby is able to eat well, you will be able to return home the morning following the surgery. Your surgeon will place soft “No No” guards to help keep your baby’s hands from disrupting the repair while you are at home.
Your surgeon will see you back in his office five days after the surgery to remove the stitches. There will be no dressings to change at home.
While the initial cleft lip repair may correct your baby’s appearance, it does not change the abnormal growth of the face that results from the cleft lip. As a result, Dr. Obaid and Dr. Ver Halen typically perform a revisionary surgery on the lip and nose, if necessary, at five years of age, so the results are as perfect as can be prior to your child starting school.
Some children with cleft lip have limited forward growth of the upper jaw and the lower third of the face as they grow through adolescence and puberty. For these children, a surgery called a LeFort I osteotomy and advancement is performed to bring the teeth together in a normal relationship and, more importantly, to improve the overall appearance of your child’s face. Finally, at 17 to 18 years of age, when a child has completed growth, a final nasal correction is performed by your surgeon.
Dr. Obaid and Dr. Ver Halen believe that your baby’s safety is the most important consideration when fixing their cleft lip. As a result, whether you are coming from the Dallas area, the Fort Worth area, or from Louisiana or Oklahoma, your surgeon will perform your baby’s cleft lip repair at Cooks Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. There, Dr. Obaid and Dr. Ver Halen use only formally trained pediatric anesthesiologists who have the experience and dedication to take great care of your baby!