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Parental Perceptions Following Cleft Lip Repair in Their Children

Brichacek, Michal A., MD*; Matic, Damir B., MD, MSc

doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000003713
Original Article: PDF Only

Objective: Cleft lip (CL) repair at 3 months is chosen mostly out of convention and offers minimal functional benefit. Potentially, a better cosmetic outcome is possible by delaying repair. This study examines parental perceptions around repair at 3 months to determine if current guidelines are appropriate.

Design: Retrospective cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Tertiary-care institution.

Participants: Parents of children with CL ± P under age 6 years who underwent CL repair from 2004 to 2011 at our center were surveyed (n = 64). Response rate was 61% (n = 37).

Methods: Open-ended survey asked about various aspects of parental perceptions before and after repair. Qualitative data analysis is used to interpret survey responses.

Statistics: Fisher exact test using contingency tables to identify statistically significant results.

Results: Nearly all (36/37) parents felt repair was important, citing reasons such as feeding, speech, and appearance. Most (28/37) felt surgery would fix the problem. A portion of parents (15/37) would delay repair if better aesthetics were possible later, but most would not (20/37). Most parents were satisfied with repair quality (33/37). On average, repair did not impact parent–child bonding, and eliminated negative interactions with strangers that parents found distressing.

Conclusions: Arguably, positive parental perceptions of their child's condition reflect favorably on the child's well-being, and may outweigh any future aesthetic benefit. Therefore, current recommendations should be upheld. However, given that some parents would consider delaying repair, they could be offered this option. Future efforts should examine cultural factors, and aesthetic and developmental outcomes of repair at different ages to determine optimal repair timing.

*Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Canada.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Damir B. Matic, MD, MSc, FRCSC, Associate Professor, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, London Health Sciences Centre, 800 Commissioners Rd. E. London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5W9; E-mail:

Received 3 November, 2016

Accepted 31 January, 2017

Presented at the 70th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgery, June 14-18, 2016, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2019 by Mutaz B. Habal, MD.