Parents of a 3-month-old baby visited Fakeeh University Hospital, desperately seeking a solution for their baby’s incomplete cleft lip - a congenital condition causing a split/opening in the upper lip.
Cleft lip is a condition caused when tissues that make up the lip do not fuse completely. This process generally happens towards the end of the first trimester. 6 months into their pregnancy, the parents found that their baby had a unilateral cleft lip. However, since one can only be fully sure post-delivery, they waited.
They then visited Dr. Gagan Sabharwal, Specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at Fakeeh University Hospital’s Surgical Institute to seek a permanent solution.
The baby had difficulty in feeding and was unable to grasp the bottle effectively because of inability to seal the lips together. The thought of their 3-month-old undergoing surgery was daunting for the parents. Dr. Gagan assured them that the condition could successfully be treated with surgery and offered them the necessary guidance and support. Convinced that their child was in capable hands they decided to proceed with surgery.
“Cleft lip is a congenital condition that cannot be prevented. Pregnant women are advised a balanced diet, no smoking and alcohol consumption and folic acid intake to ensure a healthy pregnancy. The condition can be treated in most cases and does not affect a child’s life drastically. Surgery in babies poses risks because their hemodynamic changes are sudden. In cases of cleft, there are increased risk factors since babies may have other undiagnosed congenital issues and the malformation also makes it challenging for anaesthesia,” said Dr. Gagan Sabharwal, Specialist Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.
Advanced techniques used, enabled to minimize the number of surgical sessions is typically required in such cases. The surgery included precise dissection, and rearrangement of all layers of the lip including the skin, muscle, and mucosa to give the lip proper form and function.
The Surgical Institute at Fakeeh University Hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art operation theatres and pediatric ICU’s backed by a team of highly skilled and trained pediatric anaesthetists & intensivists. The Surgical Institute boasts of the latest technology ensuring the highest level of efficiency in the Operating theatres and offers a wide range of services from routine to complex surgeries and emergency treatments.
Happy with the results of the surgery, the parents were thankful to Dr. Gagan for his expertise and for understanding their fears and helping them make the right decision. The baby was discharged the day after surgery and came a week later for follow up, seeming joyful with no complaints of feeding. They were relieved that their child was healthy and happy.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects and are caused when there is an opening in the upper lip or the roof of the mouth. In Asia and the Middle East, the numbers vary from 1 in 1000 to one in 2000 live births, depending upon ethnic background, geographical origin, and socioeconomic level.
Cleft surgeries are performed once the baby is 3 months old, weighing 10kg and haemoglobin 10g/dl.
Cleft lip doesn’t affect a child’s life drastically, however in some cases if left untreated, this may affect a child’s mental health especially during the school going years. Cleft is looked upon as a social stigma and this surgery helps to put behind any physical apprehensions the child may have growing up.
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