Lips form between the fourth and seventh week of pregnancy. A cleft lip occurs when either sides of the lip tissue do not fully connect, leaving a gap between the upper lip. This gap can be small or a larger opening that carries into the nostril. Children with a cleft lip can also have a cleft palate, which occurs when the skin on the roof of the mouth does not properly join together.
An untreated cleft lip and palate can cause breathing and speech impairments, ear infections, loss of hearing and dental problems. Surgery to correct a cleft lip and palate is recommended within the first 18 months of life.
Cleft lip and palate surgeries are extremely sought after, especially in third world and developing countries. Drs. Ted and Marcos Ortega are the only two Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) in the Gulf Coast region from Pensacola to Tallahassee to perform surgical reconstruction of cleft lip and palate. In addition, Dr. Ted honorably volunteers his time in performing plastic surgery for children in the Philippines needing cleft lip and palate surgeries.