3-6 months

Surgery - Lip Closure

Lip correction operation is not a plastic surgery, but rather a repair one; in which the lip is reshaped, the muscle is repaired, and the nose openings and cartilage are initially adjusted.

Dr. Hisham Burezq, BSc MD FRCSC FAAP
Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
Consultant Pediatric Plastic Surgeon
Canadian Board and fellowship in plastic surgery

Oral cleft is one of the most common congenital malformations, which results from incomplete growth of the upper lip inside the mother's womb. There are many degrees of them and the incision may extend to the roof of the throat.

These cases are treated by a Plastic Surgery Consultant specialized in this field with a high success rate; however, the presence of an integrated multi-specialty medical team is very important and essential to obtain the best results (Orthodontic Consultant, Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) Surgeon, Speech and Hearing Therapist, Pediatric Dental Consultant, Gene Specialist, and Pediatric Consultant).

In these cases, the lip correction operation is not a plastic surgery, but rather a repair one; in which the lip is reshaped, the muscle is repaired, and the nose openings and cartilage are initially adjusted.

Operation Time:

The operation time varies according to the degree of deformity, but it is usually performed between the ages of 3-6 months old; provided that the baby’s jaw and nose correction procedure is completed (which starts one week after birth) and the baby weighs up to 4.5 kg with hemoglobin levels not less than 10.

Cleft Lip Repair Surgery Instructions

The baby is allowed to breastfeed for up to 8 hours and drink water up to 4 hours before the surgery.

After the Baby enters the Ward:

The nurse will insert an IV cannula and give the baby the nutrient solution. If the nurse has any difficulty in inserting the cannula, the Anesthesiologist will do so, either while he is in the ward or in the operating room before the operation begins. This cannula is used to give the baby pain medications, nutrients and antibiotics. The cannula is removed by the nurse before the baby is discharged from the hospital and after serving its purpose.

The lip repair operation is a one-day procedure and the baby can leave the hospital on the operation day.

The operation time varies from one baby to another, but it generally takes about an hour and a half, and the baby is then transferred to the recovery room to stay there for about an hour.


It is permissible to breastfeed the baby (naturally or artificially) after two hours of the operation. First, the baby starts with the water and sugar solution twice, and then he can drink the usual milk. If the mother has difficulty breastfeeding, the syringe can be used for the first day or two.

It is recommended to clean the mouth with water using the syringe, as the presence of milk between the lip and the gums may cause inflammation of the wound.

Wound Care

  1. The operation method changes depending on the baby's condition and the type of congenital deformity; therefore the shape of the wound varies from one baby to another; but the wound care method does not change.
  2. The mother gets used to the shape of the clip lip for months before the operation and may see that the shape of the lip is somewhat strange right after the operation, but she usually gets used to it quickly.
  3. At first, the lip will be swollen, and there may be some bruising in the lip and cheek, with the presence of small patches in place of the wound.
  4. It is normal and expected that a little blood will come out of the nose or the lip’s wound.
  5. A silicone nasal stent will be placed with a thread that will be removed one week after the operation. Using the stent for 6 months is important to maintain the correction made during the operation. Your doctor will change the size of the stent over time.
  6. Taking care of the wound and keeping it clean is very important to reduce inflammation and help it heal. The wound is cleaned with a piece of cotton filled with water and cleaned conservatively without pressure. If there is dry blood on the wound, it can be removed gradually using a diluted oxygen water solution.
  7. One of the important methods for taking care of the wound is to prevent contact with it either while sleeping or via the baby’s hand, and there are several methods to prevent the baby from reaching the lip. This is important especially in the first two weeks following the operation; due to the wound’s sensitivity in this period.
  8. After two weeks and if the wound is healed well, your doctor will explain how to take care of the scar, along with doing a massage and using some special creams.

Pain Treatment

Pain results from moving tissues and muscles and affecting some fine nerve endings in the skin during the operation. This is often reduced in a gradual and rapid manner. Pain is treated with a dose of Panadol every 4 hours on a regular basis. Some children rarely need more effective medications while in the hospital.

The Scar’s Final Shape after Repair

Wound healing and scar stability takes time and the end result appears one to two years after the operation. 15% of children need a correction procedure before they enter school, which is usually a simple surgical intervention that takes no more than half an hour.

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