Palatoplasty Surgical Procedure

What Is Palatoplasty Surgery?

Palatoplasty in medical terms refers to the surgical process of correcting the deformity in those persons who suffer from cleft lip or cleft palate or both.

What Is Cleft Lip?

A Cleft lip refers to abnormal gap or opening which in most cases occurs between the mouth and nose of the patient. It in most cases occurs at birth; most persons with cleft lips are born with the condition. Persons with cleft lip will appear as though their lip has been sliced. In the United States of America, one out of every 700 babies has a cleft lip.

The cleft lip is the fourth most prevalent defects in the US and very many babies aged between 6 and 12 months undergo platoplasty every year to correct the deformity. Boys seem to suffer more from the condition than girls and the cause of this phenomenon is yet to be established. Because the cause of this condition is not clearly known, it cannot therefore be avoided or prevented. What is recommended is that you should seek immediate medical attention if you sire a baby with the defect. Treatment will not begin immediately after birth because the tissues of the baby are very tender. It will begin between six and twelve months after birth.

What Causes Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate?

The cleft lip develops before birth when the fetus is developing at the mother’s womb. It is believed that it occurs as a result of inadequate tissues to form the lips. What causes the insufficiency of the tissues is not exactly known. Doctors believe that genetic and environmental factors play a very great role in the development of cleft lips. Though it is not must, parents who have suffered from cleft palate are at a higher risk or possibility of siring one or several babies with the condition. Persons who have relative (s) who were/was born with the condition may also sire a baby with cleft lip.

Doctors have also stated that some medications taken by mothers while pregnant may cause this condition in the unborn fetus. Some of the medicines which are cited as possible causes of cleft lip or cleft palate ( or both) when taken during pregnancy include some arthritis, cancer and psoriasis medications; medications for treating seizures and convulsions; and medications for treating acne which contain methotrexate or Accutane.

Another possible cause of cleft lip is exposure of the fetus to chemicals or some viruses while it is still in the womb. It is important to note at this point that All the above stated causes of cleft lips are just proposals and they have not been clearly been proved in medical terms. The presence of cleft lip in newborn baby may in some cases be the symptom of other infections. Further tests may bee needed to rule out or confirm other deformities or medical conditions in the baby.

Pre natal clinics especially those which involve fetus ultrasounds can detect the presence of cleft lips in the unborn baby. However, even if the cleft lip diagnosis is made before the baby has been born, treatment will only begin six months after birth. Because it is not a life threatening condition, you should generally not worry so much about the condition because doctors know how to deal with the problem after birth.

The size and size of the cleft lip varies from one person to another. In some cases, only a small portion of the plate may be affected awhile in others, the cleft lip may affect a large portion of the plate causing a large opening. The worst cases of cleft lips extend all the way to the nose. Though it does not pose health risks, it makes someone to have a weird facial appearance. Research has also shown that persons who suffer from cleft lips are more prone to ear infections. If your baby is born with this condition you may need to consult a dentist for examination of any deformities in the teeth. You may also need to consult an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist for examination of the ears and the auditory system.

What Are The Main Goals Of Palatoplasty?

Most people with cleft lips cannot shut their mouth properly. Others have problem talking, breathing or swallowing food properly. Because of the cleft lip opening, the saliva and other contents of the mouth come out involuntarily when the patient is talking or eating. The main goal of the palatoplasty surgery is therefore to correct this anomaly and enable the patient to breathe, swallow and speak without much difficulty.

Persons with cleft lip may suffer from social stigma if they grow to maturity without the condition being addressed because the condition makes them look weird and different from the other people. Cleft lip may also cause speech problems and this may interfere with the social life of a person if the condition is not treated early enough.

In most cases, persons suffer from only one cleft and in most cases at the left side of the mouth. Some few cases of cleft lip develop in both sides of the mouth. The good news is that palatoplasty surgery can at least try to correct the situation though the 100% normal appearance at birth rate cannot be restored. Most people develop a permanent scar at the point of palatoplasty.

Furlow Palatoplasty

Furlow palatoplasty otherwise known as double opposing z palatoplasty was introduced by Furlow in 1980. Furlow palatoplasty is highly effective in correcting cleft palate.

Coblation Palatoplasty to treat snoring

Coblation palatoplasty is an advanced technique used to treat snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea. The procedure of coblation palatoplasty involves inserting a needle to perform liposuction to reduce the size of soft palate. Within 6 weeks scarring of soft palate takes place that make the palate harder and less prone to vibration.

When Should Palatoplasty Surgery Be Conducted?

Because is a condition in which persons who suffer from it are born with, treatment should sought at child ages. Doctors recommend palatoplasty surgery to babies aged between 6 months and one year (12 months). At this age range, the babies heal faster because their tissues are still undergoing growth and development.

Palatoplasty at the young age also prevents the baby from developing speech problems. Persons who for various reasons do not undergo palatoplasty procedure for cleft lip at their young age can still undergo the correctional surgery at any age. It should however be noted that the operation may take longer time to heal if conducted at persons who are grown up.

At the advanced stages, some people may also have developed permanent speech problems. In most cases only one operation is enough to address the problem but in others, another surgery at later age may be necessary. The surgeon will assess the condition of the cleft lip and cleft plate and make the necessary decision in whether the treatment requires only one or two surgeries are required.

Palatoplasty procedure

Palatoplasty is generally a very simple and safe operation because it is only the cleft lip and plate which is dealt with. The patient will first be subjected to general anesthesia. This is meant to ensure that the patient remains asleep throughout the entire process of operation. Before the palatoplasty procedure, the surgeon will insert an IV line which is an intravenous tube in to the veins of the patient. The purpose of this IV line is to infuse liquids ands medicines during the palatoplasty surgery and after the operation when the patient is recovering.

Palatoplasty procedure takes between two and three hours. The surgeon will concentrate on filling the cleft lift gap with tissue or bringing in it together by use of stitches. The number of stitches or size of tissue used in palatoplasty depends on the size of the cleft lip. If the opening is large, the surgeon has to ensure that all of it is filled with tissue. If the cleft lip has extended to the nose then it has to be filled to ensure that the deformity is corrected.

Two flap Palatoplasty technique

In Two flap palatoplasty, the cleft palate is completely closed with two layer closure at the hard palate area and three layer closures at soft palate area. Using two flap palatoplasty technique, cleft palates can be corrected without any bony exposure.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Palatoplasty?

Palatoplasty is generally a safe procedure; its side effects are not on much different from those of most other surgical procedures. Most of the side effects of the operation are also not life threatening as is the case with some other forms of operations. Most persons who undergo this process do not show any side effects at all; they just take medications to prevent infection by germs at the site of operation.

There are however some other cleft lips patients who after undergoing palatoplasty show various side effects which range from mild to severe and they include mild or severe reactions to the anaesthesia process , allergy to the anesthesia medications, blood clotting and bleeding from the site of operation. The side effects can be treated with medications to reduce inflammation, stop the bleeding and prevent infection by microorganisms at the site of operation.

Are There Any Complications Associated With Palatoplasty?

The complications which may arise from the palatoplasty surgery include blockage of the airways and the site of operation failing to heal correctly within the required time. In all cases, palatoplasty will lead to development of permanent scar at the site of operation.

Most people however have no problem with the development of scar because the cleft lip condition has worse effects and bad appearance than the scar. If the palatoplasty surgery causes many complications, they may need to be treated by other surgical methods.

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