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Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment Options

Baby before and after surgery to repair an incomplete cleft lip at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai

The repair of the cleft lip and cleft palate at an appropriate age is important for the child to be able to develop understandable speech, and to prevent difficulty with eating and swallowing. During a consultation with our cleft lip and palate specialists each child will receive an individualized functional and cosmetic assessment that will determine the best approach necessary for the highest standards of functional and aesthetic reconstruction. Depending on the extent of the case, your child's treatment team may include:

  • Ear, nose and throat doctors (ENTs, also called otolaryngologists)
  • Pediatricians
  • Facial plastic surgeons or ENTs that specialize in cleft lip and palate 
  • Oral surgeons
  • Pediatric dentists
  • Orthodontists
  • Auditory or hearing specialists
  • Speech therapists
  • Genetic counselors
  • Social workers

Surgical interventions to repair cleft lip and palate deformities may include speech surgery for velopharyngeal insufficiency, alveolar bone grafting and gingivoperiosteoplasty, cleft rhinoplasty, orthodontics, and complex dental care.

In addition to surgical interventions, comprehensive and ongoing speech therapy is a part of our routine treatment plan with cleft palate patients. The cleft team at NYEE is composed of multidisciplinary groups of specialists that includes speech and swallow therapists who specialize in the care of the cleft palate patient. Our speech team monitors developmental progress with many cutting edge tools that determine the amount of air escaping through the nose and uses 3 dimensional video imaging to assess the motion of the palate both before and after repair.

Selecting the Best Treatment Course for a Cleft Lip and Palate Child

Before proposing a customized treatment plan for a cleft lip and palate child, the specialists at NYEE take into account both functional and aesthetic factors of each case. From a functional standpoint the following questions need to be answered to determine the appropriate courses of actions:

  1. Is this affecting the child's feeding and growth?
  2. Is this affecting the child's speech and intelligible language development?
  3. Is this affecting the child's hearing?

As far as aesthetic considerations in the child with the cleft lip, the following questions need to be answered to determine the appropriate courses of action:

  1. Is this a unilateral (one sided) or bilateral (two sided) cleft lip?
  2. Is this a complete cleft of the entire lip going through the floor of the nose?
  3. Is this a partial cleft lip affecting only some parts of the visible lip?
  4. Regardless of the size of the cleft how much of the nasal shape and form is affected, and from how far away is the external nasal asymmetry noticed?

Basic Timeline: Typical Ages for Treatment of Cleft Lip and Palate Child



Diagnosing clefting and associated anomalies and creating tentative plan of care, including immediate feeding interventions. Identifying whether the child may be a candidate for Naso-Alveolar Molding device (NAM).

10 weeks 


Cleft lip repair and cleft nose repair. Insertion of ear tubes. This may be delayed to 4-5 months of age in certain situations including the use of NAM.

9mos - 1 year


Cleft palate repair

3 - 5 years 


Speech therapy and adjunctive surgical procedures

10 - 14 years 


Bone grafting for Alveolar clefting

14 - 17 years 


Cleft Rhinoplasty for definitive nasal repair when necessary 

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ENT Faculty PracticeTel: 212-979-4200

Address310 E. 14th Street
North Building, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10003

ENT ClinicTel: 212-979-4192

Address310 E. 14th Street
North Building, 1st Floor
New York, NY 10003

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