Cleft Lip teamt
UCM Cleft Lip and Palate Team

The birth of a newborn is an event of unparalleled excitement and joy for expectant parents. One of the first lasting memories is seeing the face of that new member of the family, which forever establishes a bond between nurturer and nurtured.

We, at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's, understand the challenges that families face when a child is born with a craniofacial alteration, such as cleft lip and/or palate, and are committed to excellence in comprehensive care for children born with a craniofacial anomaly. Our Cleft Lip/Palate Team provides top quality care in the variety of disciplines necessary for complete evaluation and treatment of a child. Our team, which is nationally recognized and accredited by the American Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Association (ACPA), encompasses the following pediatric specialties:

  • Plastic surgery
  • Audiology
  • ENT (Ear, nose and throat/Otolaryngology)
  • Speech therapy
  • Orthodontics
  • Genetics and development pediatrics
  • Social work
  • Family counseling/Child psychiatry

What We Treat

The Cleft Lip and Palate Team treats the following conditions:

  • Cleft lip and palate anomalies
  • Syndromes related to cleft lip and palate, such as Treacher Collins syndrome, 22q11 Deletion syndrome
  • Ear anomalies (microtia) and associated syndromes, such as Hemifacial microsomia, Goldenhar syndrome
  • Breathing problems related to small jaw (Pierre Robin Sequence) and associated syndromes: Stickler syndrome, Treacher Collins syndrome
  • Speech problems such as hypernasality or velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI)

Team meetings are conducted on a bimonthly basis and surgical procedures, performed by craniofacial fellowship-trained plastic surgeons, take place at the Comer Children's Hospital. Since 2004, Comer Children's has been a state-of-the-art facility with pediatric-trained anesthesiologists, nurses and intensive care specialists.

Our surgeons are experienced in correcting all forms of cleft lip and cleft palate defects, working to establish normal feeding, speech and appearance.

Cleft Lip & Palate Correction Timeline

  • Birth – 3 months: Preparation of lip/nose with nasoalveolar molding device if needed for wide cleft
  • 3 – 4 months: Cleft lip/nose repair. This surgery will take approximately three hours and will require an overnight stay in the hospital. Children who have repairs to the nose and lip won't be able to use a bottle for a week. Children with palate surgery won't be able to use a bottle for two weeks.
  • 9 – 12 months: Cleft lip/nose repair. If a child's soft palate is all that's involved, repair will take place at 9 months.
  • 12 months – 6 years old: Speech therapy. As many as 10 percent of children will need speech surgery.
  • 6 years old: Start orthodontics to expand the palate
  • 8 – 12 years old: Bone graft surgery, if needed
  • 12 – 16 years old: Cleft nose surgery, if needed
  • 16 years old+: Jaw surgery, if needed. About 10 percent of patients will require jaw surgery.