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Surgery

A cleft lip and palate happens in a baby very early in the pregnancy. A cleft of the lip can be on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral). It can be as small as a notch, or may extend up into the nose. The palate forms the roof of the mouth. It consists of two parts: the hard palate towards the front, and the soft palate towards the back. The soft palate is made up of muscles which move and help with speech.

Most children born with a cleft palate develop good speech, but some children may need extra help with this. Some clefts only go part of the way through the palate while others may go all the way through the lip, gum and palate.

General points about surgery

There are lots of ways surgery can improve the appearance and function of clefts. These will be discussed when you come for clinics. The clinical team will advise you where surgery is recommended and support you through any operations your child needs.  It is important to note that each child is individual so the operations they need and the optimal timing for their operations may differ.

Surgery for children will be provided by the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC). Adult surgery is likely to be provided by the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI).