Cleft Lip & Its Causes

Known as one of the most common birth defects, a cleft lip is the separation of upper lip and/or roof of the mouth. These can occur when the baby is born without fully developing. Everyone wants their baby to be born happy and healthy, so it is comforting to know that the cleft lip can be corrected. Dr. Sabini can perform a cleft lip/nose repair to restore function and appearance with minimal scarring.


A cleft lip can occur in the baby’s development when the tissues of the mouth and face don’t fuse correctly. The fusing of the tissues normally occur in the second and third month of the pregnancy. Genetics and environmental factors can play a part in why the fusing may not occur. Some causes other than genetics may be:

  • Women who smoke, drink or abuse other substances
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Boy showing a unilateral cleft lip repaired sabini plastic surgery cleft lip


In almost all cases, the cleft lip is noticeable at birth. The split occurs at the lip and roof of the mouth, and it can affect either side of the face. Although it is rare, not all symptoms may be noticeable. The cleft can occur in the muscle of the soft palate, which is located at the back of the mouth and is covered by the mouth’s lining. This kind of cleft can go unnoticed until symptoms begin to occur later on. These symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty feeding
  • Liquids coming out of the nose due to difficulty swallowing
  • Nasally speaking voice  
  • Chronic ear infections


Dr. Sabini’s procedure allows patients to regain function and normal appearance. He will start by making an incision on either side of the cleft to create a small gap of tissue that can then be drawn together to close the cleft. The incision scars can usually be aligned with the contours of the upper lip. As your child grows and develops, the scar will begin to fade.


After giving birth to a baby with a cleft palate, many parents may be concerned their next baby will also develop one. Most times a cleft palate can not be prevented, but there are some measures you can take to decrease the chances.

  • Meeting with a genetic counselor can go over your family’s history and determine your chances of having another baby with a cleft.
  • Many doctors will advise mothers to take prenatal vitamins
  • Eliminating alcohol and tobacco use while pregnant decreases the chance of any birth defect

To learn more about cleft lip/nose repair, visit us online or call to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sabini today.