The goal of cleft lip surgery is to restore normal appearance and function to the upper lip. Cleft lip surgery is usually recommended at three to four months of life. In most cases, the tissue in the area around the cleft is rearranged to close the opening. An important part of the surgery involves detaching and repositioning the muscle of the lip to recreate the circular muscle around the mouth.
The cleft lip can be repaired in a single step or in two procedures, depending on factors such as the width and extent of the cleft. The surgeon may try to provide some additional support for the nose. Reconstruction of the nose is usually accomplished at the time of cleft lip repair.