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Closing the Gap: Cleft Palate Repair

DMC Pediatric Plastic Surgeon Dr. Arlene Rozzelle uses new techniques to repair an infant’s cleft palate.

Closing the Gap: Cleft Palate Repair


Noah Fristedt was born with a cleft palate. His parents came to DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, seeking help from pediatric Plastic Surgeon Dr. Arlene Rozzelle.


The face is made up of three parts, and these parts all have to fuse in a line on each side of the nose and lip while an infant is developing in the womb. If for some reason the fusing does not occur, you end up with a cleft. In Noah’s case, he ended up with two clefts – one in the lip, which Dr. Rozelle repaired earlier, and this one, in his palate.


Dr. Rozzelle describes the procedure this way: “We’re going to surgically maneuver to close the cleft in the hard palate, using the mucosa from the hard palate, and then closing the soft palate, using some special little triangular flaps. His cleft will then be closed using just the tissue that’s there in his mouth. It doesn’t involve any grafts to any plastic or anything like that. Afterwards, he’s going to stay in the hospital one or two days to make sure he’s going to be able to eat adequately and that he’s comfortable.


As mentioned, the first step is to use special instruments to close the soft palate, raising the flaps of the tissue for the repair. By dissecting and reorienting muscles, Dr. Rozzelle moves the nasal flap across the front of the soft palate. The nasal flap is from the nasal mucosa; remember, the roof of the mouth is actually the floor of the nasal cavity.


Then, the flaps from the Oral side are crisscrossed, to close the oral side of the palate, creating two layers for closure. Layering these muscles in this way strengthens the palate and helps with speech function.


When it is complete, Dr. Rozzelle is very satisfied with the procedure, as are Noah’s parents. They look forward to his healing process, as he goes from a cleft palate to a full repair, thanks to DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan.


To connect with a doctor, call 888-DMC-2500.

Learn More about Cleft Palate.

Learn More about Dr. Arelene Rozzelle.

Learn More about DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan.


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Children's Hospital of Michigan
Arlene Rozzelle M.D.(Connect with this doctor)
SPECIALTY: Pediatric Plastic Surgery
PRIMARY HOSPITAL: DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan
CERTIFICATION: Plastic Surgery
CLINICAL INTERESTS: Facial Trauma, Craniofacial Surgery, Reconstructive Surgery
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