After cleft lip surgery, the main aim is to ensure that the repaired area stays protected until it has fully healed. In order to do this, various short-term changes will need to be made to your child’s feeding and sleeping habits, while your surgeon will show you how to care for the surgical wound.
After the operation, an IV will be used to provide your child with enough fluids until his or her drinking improves. Children generally stay one night in the hospital and leave as soon as they are able to consume a suitable amount of fluids.
When it comes to feeding, younger children will not be able to suck on a bottle or nipple for roughly 10 days after surgery. Instead, they will initially be given clear liquids using a syringe until they are able to tolerate their regular formula. Older children, on the other hand, may drink blended food from a cup.
When sleeping, your child will also need to lie on his or her back or side for a few days after surgery. This will help keep the repaired area from rubbing against the bed.
Most importantly, the stitches must be cleaned to prevent infection. Cleaning, which is often done after your child has eaten, involves dipping an earbud in mild soapy water and gently rolling it along the line of stitches. Afterwards, another earbud is soaked in warm water and is used to rinse the stitched area. Additionally, doctors might also want you to apply an anti-bacterial ointment as well.
Apart from regularly cleaning the repaired area, gentle restraints will be used for around 10 days or so to ensure that your child does not rub his or her face, as this would hinder the healing process. It is also better for younger children not to use a dummy until the wound has healed completely.
Throughout the recovery stage, there will be a number of follow ups with your surgeon. Generally, the first meeting occurs between 5 and 7 days after the cleft lip surgery has taken place. After that, the next visit occurs in about 2 weeks.