PGI to Conduct 1,500 Free Cleft Lip Operations for Children
July 25, 2013

From the last five years, the plastic surgery department of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in collaboration with an international NGO has performed more than 1,500 cleft lip/palate operations free of cost. A cleft lip is a deformity that leaves a fissure or opening on the lip. It occurs during early gestation, when separate areas of the face do not join together properly.

As per NGO International Smile Train, around 1, 70,000 children per year are born with cleft lip/ palate across the world. These children, if left untreated face difficulty in talking; feeding and can even have hearing problems. It is a common birth deformity among Indian children. There are many children who need help, but can not afford the treatment due to poor financial conditions. The problem if not treated can impact the growth of the children.

The cleft lip/palate can be treated with multiple surgeries. In case a child has both cleft lip and palate, then first surgery for cleft lip is conducted when a child is 3-6 months old, second surgery to repair cleft palate is performed when the child is 9-18 months old. Dental alveolus, teeth sockets, are repaired during 7-9 year.

Other surgeries, for speech improvement and Rhinoplasty, surgery for nose, are conducted when a child is four and 15 years old respectively. The actual reason of deformity is not yet known. There can be multiple reasons, both congenital and environmental behind the deformity among new born babies. These children usually suffer from speech problems, but about 80 percent recover after operations and speech therapy. The surgery costs about Rs 40,000 at private clinics, but here in PGIMER the treatment is free.

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