You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.

This one is about: Paul's Lip Repair


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This story is shared by Paul's mom, Beth:

Paul was born 3/7/96 with a complete unilateral cleft lip and palate. He had a lip adhesion at just under 6 weeks old. His cleft was very wide (2cm) and our Plastic Surgeon thought an adhesion this early would pull the tissue together and allow for optimal growth and a better repair. The difference between the cleft and then after the lip adhesion was incredible. All the sudden, Paul did not have a cleft, but a lip! This first surgery was very difficult for all of us. Paul had some problems coming out of anesthesia and ended up on an apnea monitor for 6 months. (This is NOT common for most cleft children).

Over the next few months, Paul's lip and his face changed a lot. The tissue shifted and it was obvious that the surgery was doing what it was intended to do, loosen up his lip tissue and actually grow together. His lip pulled up a bunch, but it looked great. The next step would be his formal lip repair, when he was 6.5 months old. Once again, anxiety rose around the surgery time, but already having been through one, it was somewhat "easier".

Paul had his formal lip repair on September 24. After the surgery he looked so pale and swollen. He had his arm restraints on, an IV in his little hand, two pieces of yellow gauze sewn into his little cheeks, a ton of stitches and a bar taped to his face called a Logan bar. He looked so pathetic, but was a brave little guy. We held him a lot the first day, and he actually slept ok, unlike his first surgery, where he hardly slept. The next morning they came and removed the gauze and cleaned his suture line. Even though he was real swollen, his lip looked so good. It was much longer and was not pulled up like it had been after the lip adhesion. Paul actually tried to smile at us, but it was hard to because of the Logan bar.

By noon, they had taken out the IV and told us we could take him home. Once we were home, he started to get back to his old self. He was playing and standing in his bouncy seat. Paul loves to comfort himself by sucking on his fingers, especially as he is falling asleep, but since he had the arm restraints on, he was unable to do this. This made for some pretty long nights that first week following surgery. He would fall asleep and then a couple hours later wake up and have a hard time falling back to sleep. (I did lots of rocking and singing to get him to sleep!)

One of the amazing things about this surgery was how quickly Paul healed. The surgery was on a Tuesday, we left the hospital on Wednesday and had a post-op check on Thursday, where the PS actually removed most of the surface stitches! He did it so quickly, with no pain med, in his office. When he pulled out the ones up in Paul's nostril, it did start to bleed, but not too much. He asked us to leave it alone, leave on the arm restraints and to come back the following Monday. That brings me to the following post, I sent to cleft-talk that Monday....

"Well, I put Paul down for a nap today, he still hasn't been sleeping well and then after about 10 minutes he still wasn't asleep, so I went to check on him and saw something fall out of the crib, I walked up and bent over and low and behold, I see a Logan bar with tape attached to it. The little bugger had pulled off an arm restraint and ripped the bar right off his face. It didn't seem to have hurt him, and luckily his suture line was fine. Guess he was as sick of that thing as I was! :-))

Anyway, we saw the PS today and he left the bar off and removed all the remaining stitches, most were taken out last Thursday...and the best part, he told me to remove the arm restraints! I actually asked him if he was sure and then reminded him that tomorrow is only a week since surgery! Paul is sooooo happy to have his fingers back to chew on! I am still watching him carefully and only letting him play with softer things, but he seems to be doing very well.

He looks amazing! His lip looks great, there is a little notch in the vermillion, but the actual scar is very light and has healed so well and quickly. His nostril still has some blood in it, but looks a lot better than a few days ago. I can't wait to get a new picture in to David!"

So there you have it, our two lip surgery experiences. I can honestly say that the second surgery was not that bad.  Paul recovered very quickly. After getting those arm restraints off, he slept like a baby that night. (He was finally able to suck on his fingers!)  From that day on, Paul was pretty much back to himself. It has been 2 months since that surgery and Paul's lip looks better every day. His scar has faded and the swelling has gone down. He is a happy, normal little boy.

Beth


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