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Rady Children's Specialists

Cleft Lip

A cleft lip may be unilateral or bilateral, complete or incomplete. The goals of cleft lip repair include re-establishment of muscle continuity and re-creation of the normal landmarks of a lip. The skin, muscles and mucous membranes are surgically moved from their abnormal positions and joined back together again. Cleft lip repair is normally performed around 3 months of age.

Normal landmarks recreated in the repair of a cleft lip include the philtrum or central dimple of the upper lip, the philtrum column or ridge on either side of the central dimple, the cupid’s bow curvature between the white and red regions of the lip, and the vermilion tubercle or pout of the central red part of the upper lip.