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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.

The Bristol based cleft surgeons mostly operate at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC). However, as part of our recovery from the pandemic, the same cleft surgeons are undertaking some surgery, such as alveolar bone graft (ABG), at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Adult surgery is mostly provided at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), but we are also doing some NHS operating at private hospitals in the region.

A Child's Guide to Alveolar Bone Graft (ABG)