If your child is born with a cleft lip, one option that you can choose pre-surgery is the “taping” method. This can be done on either a unilateral or bilateral cleft lip. Its main purpose is to bring everything as close together as possible prior to surgery. If you do choose this method, your surgeon may or may not also utilize nose stents prior to surgery…so make sure you ask yours.
The pros of using the taping method is it is relatively pain free and very non invasive for your child. You will be required to tape your child’s lip (and possibly nose) on a daily basis to maintain tension to help with bringing everything together.
The cons of using the taping method is the amount of tape you may have to go through. Let’s face it…babies drool. So anytime the tape gets wet, it will need to be changed because it will lose its adhesiveness.
“Chloe was less than 1 week old when we started taping her lip. We continued this 24/7 until her repair surgery at 4 months old. At birth her cleft measured 18mm and by the time of surgery the cleft was measuring 8mm. The taping process is relatively pain free except for some chaffing and skin tears (occasionally). You can expect weekly appointments with your team to ensure you are perfecting getting the right fit to being the lip together tight enough. The only drawback to this method is the numerous amounts of times that you will have to make new tapes and apply them. Just when you have the perfect tightness, wham there is some spit up to make it come off, or those little hands rip it right off their face. And trust me on this one, you are going to find the tape in random places on yourself and around your home. The one thing that did make me sad about this process is that I rarely got to see my sweet girls lip. I was glad to have used this process, though it could be frustrating at times have to change and redo the tape sometimes upto 12 times a day. I am amazed with her results and am thankful everyday for my team and their support.” – Alana White
“Samantha was born with an asymmetric bilateral cleft lip and complete cleft of the primary palate only. When we met with her plastic surgeon for the first time when she was two weeks old, he suggested taping her lip to help bring the premaxilla into a better position for repair. So, we started that day taping her lip using Dynacleft tape for bilateral cleft lips. She was to wear the tape 24/7 until a few days prior to lip repair surgery. In the beginning, it was a little tricky to get the tape to stay in place. The little bar over the prolabium tended to get wet and slipped off, or sometimes she would rub at her face and tear off the tape. The tape is somewhat expensive, around $7 per tape, so it was a little frustrating in the beginning when a tape broke only minutes after it was placed. But after a week or so, she became used to wearing it and we got better at applying it, and we could easily make one tape last 24-48 hours. One thing that really helped keep the tape in place was to wash her face and upper lip and pat dry before applying it. To remove it, we soaked the tape on the cheeks with a little baby oil and peeled it back very slowly so that her skin wouldn’t get red and raw. Fortunately we didn’t have too much trouble with irritation from the tape. Samantha wore the tape for just over 11 weeks. It did a very good job pulling her premaxilla back into place and even stretched her short columella some. Overall we were very pleased with the results and would recommend taping to other parents. – Sharlene Doherty”