Cleft Surgery: Beyond Smiles, Changing Lives

 Cleft Surgery: Beyond Smiles, Changing Lives


In every 700 babies born in India, one of them is born with a cleft lip or/and palate. With more than 35,000 cleft cases annually, oral and facial clefts are one of the most common and heartbreaking birth conditions in the country. A cleft, gap in the upper lip and/or mouth (palate) is a facial birth difference that occurs when parts of the body do not fuse together during the first trimester of pregnancy. The cause of the rupture is still open to several interpretations under various researches going on globally. However, vitamin imbalances in the mother during pregnancy, exposure to radiation, and even exposure to toxic environments, and infections can contribute to the development of cleft lip and/or palate in utero. In this article, Mamata Karol, Senior Vice President and Regional Director – Asia,

While cleft palate as a condition is very prevalent in India, there is limited awareness about its care and treatment. Many children and their families do not receive the specialized care that is important for children with clefts because of low awareness levels and various beliefs associated with clefts. Cleft lip and palate can lead to various other problems such as difficulty in swallowing, chewing, breathing, hearing and speech development. This condition disrupts the normal appearance of the child's face. An abnormal face due to clefts can have devastating consequences on a person's self-esteem and social relationships. Many children with untreated clefts have difficulty attending school, communicating fluently, finding a job, or even getting married later in life.

Cleft Lip: The Many Challenges

The pain of dealing with self-esteem and coping with these social situations, in addition to their own feelings about their appearance, can have a major impact on children's emotional and mental state. Being born with a cleft lip and palate can feel like a curse that is an extremely common stigma. Communicating with cleft-affected children is important to ensure that they are just another journey, a little different from their peers, and to make them believe that difference is only part of their identity, which can never take away their abilities. This counseling is expected to come primarily from the child's parents, who are his/her first zone of comfort.

The good thing is that clefts can be treated and completely repaired under expert supervision and timely intervention, and changes are visible immediately. Quality reconstructive cleft surgery can be performed in 45 minutes and the first intervention can be done at three months of age. The road to rehabilitation can be long and difficult and depending on the severity of the condition, a cleft-affected person may need to undergo more than one surgery and undergo operative and post-operative procedures for full recovery.

The cleft correction process often goes beyond surgery and requires a team of specialists including maxillofacial (oral) surgeons, orthodontists, anesthesiologists, nutritionists, speech therapists, and trained nurses to ensure comprehensive care for a smooth recovery. The path to a normal life may vary from patient to patient and may be long and difficult for some but patiently dealing with it can definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel. The most satisfying thing is that cleft surgery not only improves facial appearance, but it has a long-term effect on the overall transformation and well-being of the child. It restores them to something the rest of us might take for granted - a full smile and a normal life.


 "" સંપૂર્ણ વિગતો ગુજરાતી માં વાંચો ""

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