Cleft Lip & Palate

In Long Island


Cleft Lip & Palate

Cleft lip & palate are among the most common birth defects that affect children worldwide. Cleft lip is the incomplete formation of the upper lip and cleft palate is the incomplete development of the roof of the mouth. These defects can occur together or individually and the only way to address this is to have Cleft Lip & Palate surgery. 

Dr. Jason Cohn of Cohn Plastic Surgery routinely sees Cleft Lip & Palate surgery patients om the Long Island area. He gets patients from all over Nassau County, Suffolk County, Long Island, and even from Manhattan. Cohn Plastic Surgery is located in Smithtown, New York, making it a convenient destination for any Cleft Lip & Palate surgery patients on the North Shore.

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Cleft Basics

What is Cleft Lip & Palate surgery?

A cleft, or separation of the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth, occurs very early in the development of your unborn child. For most affected children, however, the cause of this in-utero issue is unknown. Generally, the cleft is thought to result from a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors.

Cleft lip surgery, medically known as cheiloplasty, and Cleft Palate Surgery in Long Island is done to address this abnormal development and to restore the function and appearance of the mouth and the lips. Most clefts can be repaired through these plastic surgery techniques which can help improve your child’s ability to eat, hear, speak, and breathe. Further, it can also help with their self-esteem and psychological health given how striking and unmissable an untreated cleft can be on your first impression.

Who are the best candidates for the Cleft Lip & Palate procedure?

The best candidates for a Long Island Cleft Lip & Palate procedure are those who have the following characteristics:

  • A cleft lip
  • A cleft lip and palate
  • A cleft palate
  • Low self-esteem issues
  • No medical conditions
  • Realistic expectations
  • Trouble with hearing due to a cleft
  • Trouble with speech due to a cleft
  • Trouble with their jaw and teeth growth due to a cleft
  • Trouble with their nasal tissue due to a cleft

What are the benefits of Cleft Lip & Palate surgery?

Patients who have received Cleft Lip & Palate surgery at Cohn’s Plastic Surgery in Long Island have reported some of the following benefits:

  • Closure of the cleft resulting in a scar
  • Ease in eating and retaining food in the mouth
  • Facial proportions restored
  • Formation of a normal-looking cupid’s bow along the upper lip
  • Promoting normal growth and development of the upper jaw and teeth
  • Re-establishing soft palate muscle function for speech
  • Recreating the connection of the soft palate to the auditory canal for normal hearing
  • Repairing gumline for tooth growth
  • Restoration of nasal symmetry and nostril shape
  • Separating the mouth and nasal tissues by closing the defect along its length

First Steps

What’s the first step?

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The first step for your Cleft Lip & Palate surgery is scheduling a consultation with Dr. Cohn. During your consultation, Dr. Cohn will have the opportunity to discuss your child’s situation as well as your concerns and aesthetic goals. He will discuss your child’s medical history and perform a complete examination of your child’s facial anatomy, inside and around the mouth, taking a keen look at the affected areas. If your child is deemed a good candidate for a Cleft Lip & Palate Surgery in Long Island, he will discuss the various options and make sure you are happy with your decision. He will also show you other patients before and after photos to give you a reasonable idea of expectations.

Dr. Cohn will then arrive at a detailed surgical plan for your child in tandem with you, which you can then take to the Patient Coordinator to discuss the surgery schedule, pricing, and any other questions you might have. At this time, the Patient Coordinator will also share any pre-operative instructions he might have.

What to expect on the day of Cleft Lip & Palate surgery

On the day of your surgery, Dr. Cohn and his friendly staff will welcome you and your child to the practice, and go over your child’s surgical plan making sure you agree with it. An anesthetist will then administer anesthesia to your child.

Even though sometimes, these surgeries are done in tandem, we shall discuss the cleft lip surgery separate from the cleft palate surgery. For those getting both, you will get a snapshot of them by reading below.

Cleft Lip Surgery:

The goal of cleft lip surgery is to repair the laceration in the upper lip. Cleft lip is typically repaired between the ages of 3 and 6 months. During those first few months, your child is monitored closely for adequate weight gain and nutrition, and to make sure that there are no issues relative to breathing while eating.

There are multiple techniques for this surgery. A rotation advancement repair is the most common one.

Dr. Cohn will make an incision on each side of the cleft from the lip to the nostril. The two sides of the lip are then sutured together. In addition to closing the lip, cleft lip repair realigns the muscle of the upper lip to provide normal lip function including free movement during breastfeeding. In some cases, a further operation might be needed. For example, patients with a bilateral cleft lip might need two surgeries, a month apart.

Furthermore, a primary nasal repair is often performed at the time of cleft lip surgery. This procedure involves liberating some of the nasal elements and resetting them to a normal proportion.

Cleft Palate Surgery:

The goal of cleft palate surgery is to fix the roof of your child’s mouth for ease of eating and speaking. Cleft Palate repair is a more complicated surgery than Cleft Lip repair and has the best outcome when the child is slightly older, around nine to eighteen months, and better able to tolerate the surgery, but also before speech development has begun.

There are a variety of different techniques that may be used for Cleft Palate Surgery. These include a Z-plasty or a V-Y pushback (Veau-Wardill-Kilner Palatoplasty). These procedures target the palate in three layers: the inner layers that form the nasal lining; the middle layers, the muscles at the back of the palate; and the final layer, which includes the lining of the mouth or the “oral mucosa”. A portion of the palate is usually left open to allow room for the mouth, palate, and jaw to grow.

Cleft Palate surgery not only targets these three layers, it also realigns the palatal muscles. That procedure is called intravelar veloplasty. That realignment of the muscles allows for the best function of the palate during speech, eating, and swallowing.

Cleft Palate Surgery not only helps with speech and mouth activities, but it also helps with the functionality of the nose as it separates the oral and nasal cavities. This separation involves the formation of a watertight and airtight valve that is necessary for normal speech. The repair also helps with preserving facial growth and proper dental development. 

After Cleft Lip & Palate Surgery, typically no further surgery is performed for several years.

Cleft Lip & Palate surgery recovery

After your child’s surgery, they will be monitored in a recovery room until Dr. Cohn is ok for discharge given the wearing off of sedation.

Once awake, they may be irritable and feel mild pain and swelling around the stitches. This is normal. Stitches dissolve or will be removed in five to seven days. They may have to wear padded restraints on their hands to prevent rubbing at the surgery site.

Scars will gradually fade but will not completely disappear.

Your child may experience more discomfort and pain in a Cleft Palate Surgery than a Cleft Lip Surgery if they are being done separately. That is because the former is much more involved than the latter.

Your child may even be admitted to stay in the hospital for a few days and will be given antibiotics to prevent infection. If packing is placed on the palate, do not remove the packing until instructed. There may be drains to help get rid of bloody drainage from the nose and mouth. As a result, your child may have nasal congestion but it can be treated with anti-congestant medication.  

Upon discharge, your child might also have bandages placed on incisions outside their mouth. You will be given specific home care instructions that may include:

Dietary restrictions are common after cleft palate repair with liquid or puree diets recommended for several days. Dr. Cohn might also recommend avoiding bottles, pacifiers, straws any other suctional pressure device, or other utensils as well for several days. 

Further, your child needs to be supervised and might even need to have arm restraints to prevent any touching of the treated site.

Cleft Lip & Palate Cost

How much does Cleft Lip & Palate surgery cost in Long Island, NY?

The cost of Cleft Lip & Palate surgery in Long Island varies on the extent of the deformity, the surgeon’s fees, anesthetist’s fees among other factors. The fastest way to get to a price estimate is to schedule your consultation with Dr. Cohn so that he can arrive at a surgical plan that can then be taken to a patent coordinator for pricing options.

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why choose us

Rediscover your true self

Why choose Cohn Plastic Surgery?

Dr. Jason Cohn is a Long Island native and AAFPRS fellowship-trained facial plastic reconstructive surgeon based in Smithtown, NY. Dr. Cohn enjoys connecting with his patients in a meaningful, approachable demeanor. He aims to assist you in achieving your aesthetic goals with natural, high-quality results. He is so dedicated to patient care that he executes all surgeries and treatments. Dr. Cohn is also a DO (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS).


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If your child has a Cleft Lip and/or Cleft Palate, do not delay their treatment as it can hamper their bodily functions such as speech, hearing, smell, and other functions, their self-esteem, and their social development. Please call Cohn’s Plastic Surgery at your earliest for a Cleft Lip & Palate surgery in Long Island, and/or visit our website for more information on how to schedule your consultation with Dr. Cohn.

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