Two Girls Playing On SwingsWhether you’ve just left the ultrasound room after having found out your unborn child has a cleft lip, or are at the hospital recovering from labor and delivery at which time your child was diagnosed, we understand you are likely scared and have a lot of questions right now. That’s exactly why we’re here to help. At Wellspring Craniofacial Group, we work with local families throughout their child’s adolescence to assist them with necessary surgeries and treatments to provide their child with the best possible outcome.

You’ve likely found this blog post because, in the short period of time that you’ve received the diagnosis, you’ve already learned that not all cleft lips are alike. And you’re probably wondering, “Which condition does my child have?”

Below is a description of the different cleft lip types, as well as their recommended treatment options.

Microform Cleft Lip

Also known as a “forme fruste,” this is the mildest form of a cleft lip, and typically presents as a vertical scar from the lip to the nose. There may also be a notch in the vermillion border of the lip. The nose may be affected, too.

Despite its mild appearance, surgery around age 3-4 months is often beneficial for a microform cleft lip. This is because the cleft lip may interfere with eating, drinking, and speech.

Unilateral Complete Cleft Lip

This diagnosis affects only one side of the upper lip and extends all the way from the lip to the nose. It also affects children’s noses, with the affected nostril appearing widened. Surgical intervention in early infancy can address cosmetic appearances as well as functional issues related to eating, drinking, and speech.

Unilateral Incomplete Cleft Lip

With this presentation, children have clefting on one side of the lip, only. Taking on a variety of appearances, this type of cleft lip may appear as only a small gap in the vermillion (aka the pink part of the lip), or it may extend upwards, sometimes almost all the way to the nostril. As with other types of diagnoses, early surgery can improve eating, drinking, and speech.

Bilateral Complete Cleft Lip

This diagnosis affects both the right and left sides of the lip, all the way up to the nostril. While feeding is always a concern for any child with a cleft lip, it is especially important to work with us if your child has a bilateral complete cleft lip as the presentation may make eating even more complex. Surgery is typically performed at around 3-4 months of age, thus easing the feeding difficulties.

Bilateral Incomplete Cleft Lip

With this condition, there is a gap on both sides of the upper lip. The nose is also affected, but not as seriously as with a bilateral complete cleft lip. Surgery can help correct aesthetic and functional concerns around age 3-4 months.

Mixed Bilateral Incomplete and Complete Cleft Lip

Children born with a bilateral cleft lip may present with a complete cleft on one side, and an incomplete cleft on the other side. While this also affects eating, drinking, and speech, it can be addressed with surgery around ages 3-4 months.

Call Us for More Information

As you can see, there are several different ways a cleft lip can present. While surgery is often performed around the same age for all diagnoses, different techniques are performed depending on your child’s exact diagnosis. To learn more, contact our office today at (512) 600-2888.