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Post-Operative Care: Following Cleft Lip Repair

Post-operative care is crucial to proper healing. Please follow these guidelines as closely as possible, as it will minimize unnecessary pain and complications such as infection and swelling. We encourage you to call our office if you have any questions or if you need assistance. 

The first two weeks after your childs surgery, the cleft lip repair is not strong enough to resist damage that could be caused by foreign objects (or fingers!). 

To prevent injury, promote healing, and maintain your child’s comfort, it is important that you follow the instructions given after the surgery. 

Feeding instructions 

  • During the first week after surgery, you will feed your infant with a syringe fitted with a special soft tubing. We will give you the catheter at your pre-operative appointment. The goal is to prevent your child from having to suck hard on formula or milk, and thus protect the newly repaired lip. Formula and pumped breast milk can both be given in the syringe. 
  • At your first visit, 7 to 10 days after the surgery, your surgeon will tell you if any changes should be made to the above feeding instructions. 

Lip care 

  • Do not touch or handle your child’s lip (surgical area). Allow any dried blood or crusty material to fall off on its own. Your surgeon or nursing staff will cleanse the lip at the first visit after surgery. 
  • Using a clean jar with a lid, mix up a solution of 50 percent hydrogen peroxide and 50 percent water. Using a clean Q-Tip, gently clean the lip area as often as needed, at least 2 or 3 times each day. 
  • If your child had a nasal retainer placed during surgery, you will need to clean it the same way you clean the lip area. 
  • You will be told when to begin to use a moisturizing lotion or scar cream to moisturize and massage the scar. 

At Home Care 

  • Any object your child puts in or around the mouth (including little fingers!) can ruin the repair. 
  • The nonos must stay on your childs arms for at least 2 weeks. You should check them every 2 to 4 hours to make sure they are not too tight and take them off briefly several times a day to allow your child to bend and move his or her arms. The long-sleeve T-shirt you brought from home will be used on the day your child goes home. Place the T-shirt on your child, then put the no-nos on. Roll the cuff of the T-shirt over the edge of the nonos and pin them to the T-shirt with a safety pin. Additional safety pins can be used to pin the no-nos to the T-shirt at the shoulders as well. A nurse will show you what to do if you have any questions. Change the long-sleeve T-shirt after you bathe your child. 

Relief of pain 

  • You can expect your child to have mild to moderate pain for a few days. The Tylenol® with codeine medication for pain relief that he or she was prescribed a few days before surgery can be combined with Over-the-counter Motrin® if your child is still having pain, but most children only need over-thecounter pain relief once they get home. Do not give your child any over­ the-counter Tylenol while he or she is still on Tylenol with codeine. 
  • If you notice any of the following changes in your child, call the surgeon right away:
    • Fever higher than 101.4°F
    • Trouble breathing or skin color changes (pale, blue or gray)
    • Bleeding or foul-smelling drainage from the scar or nose
    • Signs of dehydration, including lack of energy, sunken eyes, dry mouth or not urinating enough/fewer wet diapers Any redness, swelling, or any in-and-out movement” of the nasal retainer 


It is our desire that your recovery be as smooth and pleasant as possible. Following these instructions will assist you, but if you have any questions or concerns about your progress please call the office (251)471-3381 

Thank you for trusting us with your Cleft and Craniofacial needs.