Cleft lip & palate

What is cleft lip and palate surgery?

An orofacial cleft refers to an opening in the lip or roof of the mouth. It is one of the most common birth defects, and is highly treatable. Cleft surgery is typically performed within the first year or two of a baby’s life.

A cleft occurs when the parts of a baby’s lip and mouth do not join together properly when the bones and tissues of the upper jaw, nose, and mouth are developing. A cleft lip affects the lip. A cleft palate, on the other hand, can affect the soft palate, or the hard palate near the front of the mouth. A cleft palate tends to occur more commonly in girls, while a cleft lip or a cleft lip and palate together, are more common in boys.

What does the procedure involve?

It is possible to treat a cleft lip surgically, in which case, your child will be placed under general anaesthesia.

The procedure may be performed between the ages of 3 and 6 months old. The type of procedure that Dr Pillay performs will depend on the extent and size of the cleft. In most cases, the surgical repair of a cleft lip leaves a small scar on the lip under the nose.

A cleft palate can be repaired between the ages of 9 and 12 months old. During the procedure, Dr Pillay will connect the muscles of the soft palate and reposition the surrounding tissues in order to close the cleft.

Sometimes, additional surgeries may be required later in your child’s life in order to help improve speech, or facial structure.

How long does recovery take?

After cleft lip repair, your child’s mouth will appear swollen for a week or two. The incision will heal completely after around four weeks.

After cleft palate surgery, it can take up to four weeks for the incision to heal. Dr Pillay may recommend that your child wears padded arm restraints for a week or two following surgery to prevent him or her from touching the site of surgery.



Located in Ballito, I am a Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic surgeon specialising in skin cancers, aesthetic breast, abdominal and facial surgery, hand injuries, cranio-facial deformities as well as burns and burn reconstruction. Read More



Please view the patient information and resources regarding all the necessary information and forms that are required from each patient prior to the plastic, reconstructive or aesthetic surgery that Dr Trishan Pillay performs. Read More



This is probably one of the most difficult or easiest decisions you will have to make. Choosing your surgeon is just like choosing any other doctor. The first and probably the most important is to go to a surgeon that is a fully...Read More



Specialised in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic surgery, Dr Trishan Pillay strives for a holistic and patient centred approach and thus welcomes a range of patients to book a consultation to see how he can help and what can be done for your specific needs.Book an Appointment