Cleft Lip

A cleft lip is a condition where there is an opening (cleft) in the lip. There are 3 types of cleft lips:

Unilateral Cleft

When one side of the lip has a gap, we call it a unilateral cleft lip.

Incomplete Cleft

If the cleft is a small notch in the lip, we call it an incomplete cleft lip: this can only happen with one-sided clefts.

Complete Cleft

If the cleft goes all the way to the base of the nose, we call it a complete cleft.

Bilateral Cleft

When both sides of the lip have a gap that goes all the way to the nose, we call it a complete bilateral cleft lip.

What causes cleft lips?

Each year, 1 in 700 newborns is born with a cleft lip. A cleft lip occurs when the parts that form the mouth don't join together properly: this happens very early in the pregnancy, within the first 4-12 weeks. Cleft lips can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors.

How does a cleft lip impact a child?

We use our lips to do many things, from eating and drinking to speaking. Patients with cleft lips may have issues related to their: