Beyond Therapy – Supporting Cleft Lip and Palate Families in Our Communities

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In Utero Insights

International outreach – smiles for Guatemala

By Oksana Jackson, MD, Attending Surgeon; Co-Director, Cleft Lip and Palate Program; Co-Director, Velopharyngeal Dysfunction Program; and David Low, MD, Attending Surgeon; Director, International Visiting Scholar Program

Photo collage of International Outreach in Guatamala Many of the clinicians of the Cleft Lip and Palate Program share their expertise worldwide in the form of international outreach missions. Special among these is a biannual event where our plastic surgeons — in collaboration with CHOP anesthesiology, nursing, otolaryngology, orthodontia and speech pathology — travel to Guatemala City to provide world-class multidisciplinary cleft care to the underserved population of Guatemala. Working with the Conshohocken Plymouth-Whitemarsh Rotary Club and Partners for Surgery in Guatemala, each one-week mission treats infants, children and teenagers with cleft lips and palates from the rural mountain villages of Guatemala. Life-changing surgery to correct facial deformities and restore the ability to eat, hear and speak provides these children with a chance to live a normal life.

Community partnership

Philly Phaces logo and photos The Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is privileged to partner with Philly Phaces, a group of volunteers made up of parents, health professionals and young adults with appearance differences who are devoted to helping families in the Philadelphia metro area with cleft and craniofacial conditions who are cared for at CHOP. Philly Phaces is committed to empowering children, adults and families facing appearance differences by providing peer support, advocacy and resources. Favorite annual social events include amusement park gatherings and pirate ship adventures, which connect families to share experiences and support one another. The ability to positively impact the lives of children with cleft lip and palate is strengthened by this community partnership, which benefits these children and their families inside and outside the walls of CHOP.

Cleft family picnic

Group photo from cleft family picnic The Cleft Lip and Palate Program has grown into an extremely busy clinic treating hundreds of children with cleft lip and palate every year. Care extends from infancy through puberty and into the late teenage years. During their visits, patients are seen by plastic surgery, pediatric nurse practitioners, orthodontia, speech pathology, audiology, psychology, social work, genetics and otolaryngology. Our clinic treats families, not individual patients, and one of the highlights of the year is the Cleft Family Picnic each fall, a fun and heartwarming event that gives patients and families a chance to reunite with our team and connect with others who have experienced cleft repair. Here, a picture from our most recent gathering.

Next Steps
Smiling young boy

Why Choose the Cleft Lip and Palate Program

Founded in 1953 as part of our internationally recognized Facial Reconstruction Center, our Cleft Lip and Palate Program is one of the largest in the nation.

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Diagnosis and Treatment of Cleft Lip and Palate

In this video, clinicians and patient families talk about the diagnosis and treatment of cleft lip and palate, the most common congenital facial anomaly.

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Surgical Care for Teens with Cleft Lip and Palate

Because the face and oral structures change as a child grows, our Cleft Lip and Palate Program follows children from before birth through adolescence.