One of the more common birth defects in babies is a cleft lip and palette. This is a gap in the natural formation of the upper lip that is treatable with surgery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 2,651 babies are born in theUSeach year with a cleft palate; about 4,437 are born with a cleft lip. This malformation of the lip and/or mouth can cause problems with breathing, nursing, eating, drinking, speech and hearing when it is not corrected. When surgery is an option it is typically done before the child is a few months old, and is recommended before one year for a cleft lip and 18 months for a cleft palette. Some children require repeated surgeries as they grow older. This can affect the lip and mouth. Like all facial surgeries on the skin’s exterior, cleft lip surgery leaves a visible scar. It is typically visible between the upper lip and bottom of the nose.
New scars tend to have a red appearance, since more blood vessels are produced when the body is trying to heal itself. Some scars are more visible than others. You will see the scar fading over time, eventually creating a pale line. Visibility is dependent on the child’s skin type, the cleft size, the body’s ability to heal itself and the placement of the sutures. After the wound has had a chance to heal for at least two to three weeks, a topical agent to treat scars can be applied.
There are a number of treatment options available for cleft lip scars. One option is to perform scar reduction surgery to make the scar thinner and flatter. Although it may become fairly thin, it will still be visible without further scar treatment. Some people apply Vitamin E for faster healing; others use sunscreen to reduce permanent discoloration from ultraviolet rays.
Using Scarfade is also an option to further reduce cleft palette scars. It is safe to use on children of all ages. Best results occur when Scarfade is applied to scars less than a year old, since children’s scars tend to reach full maturity after 12 to 18 months in duration. Scarfade C accelerates scar healing and is another option. Sunscreen can be applied over Scarfade for added protection from skin discoloration without lowering its effectiveness.