While it is rare, given the advancement of medical services in developed countries and awareness among patients, to find an adult with an uncorrected cleft lip and palate, many adult cleft patients have residual nasal and lip deformities which were never adequately corrected for a variety of reasons. In some cases financial resources or doctors with expertise were simply unavailable. In others, the patient was fearful of more surgery and refused to continue. These residual deformities can result in misaligned jaws and teeth, missing teeth, nasal and breathing problems, speech problems, and uneven lip appearance. Fortunately these problems can be addressed with the latest reconstructive surgery techniques in adult cleft lip and palate reconstruction regardless of a patient’s age.
In up to 20% of cleft palate patients, the failure of the upper jaw to adequately develop can result in a significant underbite requiring jaw surgery. However advanced techniques, including the use of titanium plates and screws to avoid the wiring of the jaw, have facilitated this surgery and significantly enhanced the success rates. Moreover, the use of bone from tissue banks has allowed surgeons like me to avoid the reliance on grafting from the patient’s own hip bones, significantly decreasing post operative discomfort. Finally, jaw surgery is often combined with dental rehabilitation which includes the use of implants, bridges, and other cosmetic dental measures.
Frequently, a cleft lip nasal deformity occurs with a cleft lip and palate. This separation can affect the nose, causing it to look widened and flattened because the cartilage is displaced. More importantly the nasal septum, or structure within the nose that separates the left and right nostril, is often not aligned properly, affecting breathing and causing congestion problems in patients that can be corrected with rhinoplasty. With techniques that make use of the patient’s own tissues and require only minimal incisions, adult cleft patients can achieve gratifying results that greatly enhance breathing, function, symmetry, and overall nasal appearance. These modern procedures require no packing in the nose and the use of absorbable stitches and computer imaging all help achieve the desired outcomes. Ultimately by combining these measures, we can restore facial harmony and enhance the profile while simultaneously improving function to maximize aesthetic and functional results.
If you are interested in learning more about a facial procedure that Dr. Burstein performs, please contact us today to schedule a consultation. Also be sure to connect with Dr. Burstein on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.