Such expressions as ‘rabbit lip’, ‘wolf mouth’ are in fact thought to be innocent or even cute while talking about the problem of cleft lip-palate. However, such similitudes cause inflicting a deep wound in little hearts especially in childhood! Professor Hakan Ağır, an aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery specialist at Acıbadem Altunizade Hospital, states that “These kinds of similitudes and cynical sayings can cause our children to experience mental and social problems, and also lead to poor school life in education. Such similitudes should be avoided. Moreover, cleft lip-palate problem can now be treated easily by professional hands without requiring long and costly treatment process as before, almost without causing a scar. Turkey has reached the same level in this issue with western countries. It can be overcome as long as we change the false perceptions in our society.” Professor Hakan Ağır has explained the latest developments in the problem and treatment of cleft lip-palate and given important recommendations and warnings.
Face development in the womb is completed in the third month of pregnancy. However, the cleft lip-palate problem comes out when this development is interrupted for a reason on the baby’s lip and palate, genetic origin of which is not fully known. On average, 5 babies in our country are born with this problem everyday, causing aesthetic deformity in the lips, nose, teeth and jaw structure, and making speech hard to understand. Professor Hakan Ağır, an aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery specialist at Acıbadem Altunizade Hospital, stated that almost 100,000 people in our country live with cleft lip-palate problem, bifurcation of the uvula and hidden clefts that do not require treatment and said “However, in today’s Turkey, the same success can be achieved as in western countries in experienced and educated medical centers and by surgeons who frequently apply this treatment. The role of success in Turkish Plastic Surgery, Orthodontics and Speech therapy fields is very important. Treatment of cleft lip repair is now possible with surgical improvements without leaving any scar on the lip, the nose or the skin.
Professor Hakan Ağır emphasizes the importance of keeping the morale of pregnant woman high, and the support given by the husband and the family members when cleft lip-palate problem of the baby is detected with ultrasound in the mother’s womb and says ” once ultrasound diagnosis is resulted, We advise parents to see a specialized plastic surgeon in a medical center. Because misinformation can reach up to the request for terminating pregnancy. Cleft lip and cleft palate are not considered as a medical reason to terminate pregnancy. Many psychosocial problems such as depression and social isolation can be prevented by guiding the mother, father, family members and even the close social circle members as in the same way after birth.
Indicating that cleft lip-palate is not a threat to baby’s life if it is followed by professional experts, Professor Hakan Ağır states that cynical and discriminative attitudes of peers could lead to serious mental development disorders during the period when the baby reaches the age of childhood. Expression of these deformities as ‘rabbit lip’ or ‘wolf mouth’ among people makes both the child and adult patients furious, introvert and cause serious lack of self-confidence leading to failure in school and social adaptation problem, Professor Hakan Ağır states that “Such similitudes must be avoided. They are our valuable children and it is not right to make an animal similitude, even if it wasn’t with bed intention. In fact, our social approach, culture and educational environments are not at the desired level yet not only for children with cleft lip-palate, but also for other children and adults with similar deformities and dysfunctions on the face and visible parts. It is necessary to take measurements quickly to overcome these problems.”
Aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery specialist Professor Hakan Ağır gives the good news that there is a serious improvement in the treatment of cleft lip-palate in our country and the world for the last 10 years and says that diagnosis of cleft lips with ultrasound in pregnancy has reached to almost 50%, more babies can be reached with postpartum nutrition training and transition period can be facilitated. Having indicated that operation of the baby is performed after the 10-week period for the surgical treatment of the problem as agreed by the whole world, Professor Hakan Ağır says that “The most important and critical operations for a baby with cleft lip and palate are the first operations where the cleft lip and palate are closed, which are the surgeries at the first ages. However, other aesthetic repairs, speech correcting surgieris, bone transfer, maxillary and nasal surgeries are also very important”. Professor Hakan Ağır also states that they are no longer afraid of touching nasal valve and tip as before, complete repair is possible even in the first surgery, and says “It is now possible to reach a result with invisible scar on the lip and lip skin with the surgical technique improvements in cleft lip repair. Incisions on nasal wings are not a must anymore. The fact that everything is performed at the right time, in the right place, and in the right hands today makes it difficult to distinguish these children and adults from healthy ones”.
Today, there are many patients with cleft lip-palate problem who continue their lives with various aesthetic, dental-maxillary and speech disorders eventhough they underwent their first operations. However, this negative experience does not mean that there is no longer a solution. While many patients and their relatives abstain from treatment by considering that either there is no treatment change any more or these operations are too expensive, Professor Hakan Ağır says “There is always an improvement to be done as long as the medical centers working with a team spirit who devote themselves on the treatment of this disease have their last word. Moreover, costs of these treatments can even be lower than other ordinary surgeries”. Having stated that treatment and follow-up of cleft lip-palate are valid through expert centers and teams also in Turkey as in all developed countries, Professor Hakan Ağır says that very successful results are achieved both in aesthetic problems and speech disorders treatments in recent years.