Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft treatment for adults

Adults born with a cleft lip and/or palate may require ongoing treatment despite having undergone surgery as children, teenagers and young adults. The healthcare of adults born with a cleft can sometimes be neglected because they are no longer monitored within the U.K. cleft service (Cleft treatment pathway) after the age of 21. 

The adults we spoke with appreciated the treatment they had received in their early and teenage years but were also aware that further treatment was available to them as young adults. Such treatment can serve a functional and/or cosmetic purpose e.g. orthognathic surgery (jaw alignment) and rhinoplasty (nose surgery). However, the people we spoke to who had been born with a cleft also experienced functional problems with teeth, breathing and speech.
Adults who were born with a cleft can access treatment within the NHS. However, for the adults we spoke to, experienced and sympathetic health professionals were needed to help provide access to relevant care such as orthodontic treatment. 
Younger adults can find that adapting to how they look following surgery may be difficult, particularly when they are at an age where they are self-conscious about their appearance but also trying to become more independent (see ‘View of self and appearance’). 

Last reviewed June 2017.

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