In the Hospital
After Cleft Palate Repair After Cleft Lip Repair
After surgery, your child will have an IV until he/she is able to take fluids well by mouth. He/she will generally be offered the breast, bottle, cup in the recovery area and starting with clear liquids. Once he/she is tolerating small amounts well, he/she will be able to be gradually increased to formula, full liquids and pureed foods according to age. Your child should not use a straw because it could damage the cleft repair. Water should be offered after each feeding or you may gently rinse with a syringe and water. DO NOT place up towards the palate to prevent injury.

Restraints are not applied as children will generally not disturb their incision, because if they touch, it hurts. However, he/she will be carefully observed to make sure he/she Goes not pull at the packing that may be in the palate.

You will find sutures (stitches) on the palate where the cleft was repaired. You will usually also find a special packing called Surgisel that will be packed into areas of the palate. The sutures will dissolve on their own after four days. Do Not remove the packing unless you were told you may do so by the surgeon.

It is normal for there to be some swelling at the surgery site and some bloody drainage coming from the nose and mouth. This drainage will lessen over the first day after surgery. Your child will experience some soreness that can be relieved by a non-aspirin pain medication.

It is not unusual for children to experience nasal congestion after this surgery. You may notice nasal snorting, mouth breathing, and a decrease in the appetite. If this occurs, the doctor will prescribe a nasal spray to relieve this. You can use saline nasal spray after your child goes home.

Antibiotic medication will be given to your child to prevent infection while he/she is in the hospital. This medication will be continued when you take your child home . He/she will also be given something for pain, a non-aspirin pain reliever. You will also receive a prescription for this when he/she goes home.

As a general rule, most children are hospitalized for two to three days after surgery.

After surgery, your child will have an IV until he/she is able to take fluids well by mouth. He/she will generally be offered the breast, bottle, cup in the recovery area and starting with clear liquids. Once he/she is tolerating small amounts well, he/she will be able to be gradually increased to formula, full liquids and soft foods according to age.

Restraints are not applied as children will generally not disturb their incision, because if they touch, it hurts. However, it is important that he/she not rub their face against bedlinens, clothing, etc., because this could disturb the sutures (stitches) or cause an infection.

You will find sutures (stitches) in the upper lip and nose where the cleft was repaired. It is normal for there to be swelling, bruising and some bloody drainage at the site. The incision line will be cleaned by the nurses and ointment applied three times a day.

Antibiotic medication will be given to your child to prevent infection while he/she is in the hospital. This medication will be continued when you take your child home . He/she will also be given something for pain, a non-aspirin pain reliever. You will also receive a prescription for this when he/she goes home.

As a general rule, most children are hospitalized for two to three days after surgery.

After You Go Home
After Cleft Palate Repair After Cleft Lip Repair
You will need to make an appointment for a follow up with the surgeon within one week of surgery and continue the above care. You will need to make an appointment for a follow up with the surgeon within one week of surgery.

The surgeon may use sutures (stitches) that dissolve, if so they will dissolve within seven to ten days. If the surgeon used suture that must be removed, that will be done on the one week appointment. It is very important that you continue to keep the incision clean at home. You will need to cleanse the incision three times a day with soap and water, then 1/2 strength peroxide and a Q-tip if there is crusty drainage. You will be able to gently remove any crusting with this method. Next, you will need to apply the antibiotic ointment that was given to you on discharge from the hospital. This daily routine is important to prevent infection and to provide the best scar results for your child.

Your child may return to most normal activities when he/she returns home, but most rough play is restricted.

When to Call Your Doctor
After Cleft Palate Repair After Cleft Lip Repair
If you notice the following in your child, you should call your doctor immediately:
  • Fever of 101 F or higher.
  • Significant amount of blood coming from the nose and/or mouth.
  • Your child is not eating and drinking.
  • If you notice any yellow, green or foul smelling drainage at the incision, or a foul smelling breath.
If you notice the following in your child, you should call your doctor immediately:
  • Fever of 101 F or higher.
  • Significant amount of blood coming from the incision.
  • Significant swelling, redness, warmth at incision site, pus like or foul smelling drainage, increased pain not relieved by pain medication, or increased restlesness.
  • Your child is not eating/drinking adequate amounts and/or not putting out adequate amounts of urine.

Helpful Information

All scars will usually look worse before they get better. After the initial surgery and after the sutures have either been removed or dissolved, from then to a period of about six weeks the scars can become red, firm, and hard. This is the body's normal mechanism of creating a very strong and solid soar. Scars generally take six months to mature and should at that time not be noticeable from a conversational distance.

Gentle massage in a circular motion for five minutes four times day with a moisturizing oil helps to condition the skin and the scar. This is usually started two weeks after surgery and continued through the postoperative period for several months.

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