Following the instructions below will prevent injury to your child’s newly repaired lip and help in the healing process.
Cleansing the Lip
Your child’s lip has been repaired with Dermabond. You may begin cleaning the lip on the third day after surgery. The lip may be cleansed as needed with a solution of ½ strength hydrogen peroxide. This is made by mixing equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide with water. Do not use any Neosporin, Vaseline or ointments to the surgical site as these will cause the Dermabond to melt. Following surgery, the lower teeth may be brushed, and you may begin to brush the upper teeth 2 weeks after surgery. Make sure to use only a foam or soft bristle toothbrush for at least the first 2 weeks of brushing.
Your child will also have tubes in his or her nose. These tubes are called nasal stents. It is important to keep these tubes clean and prevent them from becoming clogged. You may clean the tubes by using a Q-tip that has been moistened with water.
Restraining and Positioning
Your child should wear arm restraints at all times to keep him or her from touching or putting anything in their mouth. The arm restraints should be removed one at a time twice daily for 15-30 minutes to allow for elbow exercising. This should be done only under careful observation. These restraints are not uncomfortable and are for your child’s safety. They will be necessary for 2-3 weeks after surgery.
It is also important to keep your child from rolling over onto his or her side or stomach, as pressure against the surgical area could cause injury. Positioning your child on his or her back in an infant seat or a seat supported on both sides will prevent rolling over.
To help healing and decrease tension to the suture line, your child will need to be fed using only the tip of the nipple in his or her mouth. NO pacifiers should be used during this time. Should your child have any difficulty with feeding this way, his or her formula should be given using a rubber tipped syringe. We suggest you place the nipple on the unaffected side. If your child has a bilateral cleft repair, the nipple should be placed in the middle of the mouth. Your child should be fed in a sitting position, fed slowly and carefully, allowing time for burping. Feeding this way is necessary for 2-3 weeks. If you are breastfeeding, you may continue to do so at this time.
Follow Up Care
Your child should return to see Dr. Lin or Dr. Plikaitis one week following his or her cleft lip repair. Post-op appointments can be made by calling 314-678-2182.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or email Debbie, our clinical nurse coordinator, at 314-577-5368 or the Department of Plastic Surgery at 314-678-2171.