Overview

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Many parents don't know what to expect when their child is having VPI surgery. It’s normal to have questions.

What To Expect


  • When you meet with your surgeon to discuss surgery, you will receive a handout that details what to expect and what care your child will need at home. Please review this information with your surgeon and our clinic nurses before surgery. Doing this will make the time after surgery less stressful.
  • For a week or two after surgery, your child will probably need a little extra care and attention. You shouldn't worry about spoiling your child while they are recovering.
  • Your child will stay in the hospital one or two nights depending on how well they recover from surgery.
  • Your child will have sutures (stitches) that are loosely tied to the middle of their tongue. Doctors usually tape the end of the suture to your child’s cheek. These sutures help your child breathe in case of an emergency. Doctors usually remove sutures the evening of surgery. 
  • Your child will receive pain medication. Our team will give your child the right amount of medication so their pain is well controlled. We will also closely monitor your child’s pain.
  • We will pay close attention to how much your child is eating and drinking.
  • Your child will wear arm straighteners. These will prevent your child from accidentally hurting themselves while they're healing.

Our nursing staff cares for many children who have cleft palate surgeries. Our staff will provide you with tips as well as compassionate care after your child’s surgery.

Common Questions

Will my child be able to drink after the palate surgery?

Most children eat and drink easily after palate surgery. Your child will probably have a sore throat and swallowing will feel different. 

Even though swallowing will feel different, your child will still know how to swallow after surgery. As a parent, the best thing you can do is figure out what your child wants and needs. 

What should I know about anesthesia & eating?

After your child wakes up from anesthesia, you can begin giving your child fluid and soft foods. Some children do best drinking from the bottle or cup they used before surgery. Other children may need to be fed with a syringe or similar device while they recover. 

It’s easier for some children to drink liquid food after surgery. Other children do better eating soft solid foods at first.

Most children go home the day after surgery, but some need to stay in the hospital an extra day or two. Your child will return to their usual routine within a few weeks.

How do I take care of the part of the mouth where my child had surgery?

The inside of your child's mouth will heal on its own. The most important thing you can do is protect this area while it heals. Don’t let your child put objects (besides food) in their mouth. 

The stitches in your child's mouth will dissolve on their own. You do not need to remove them. It’s safe for your child to swallow or spit out these stitches.

Your child might also have bad breath while they heal. This is normal and bad breath will go away once your child's palate has healed. 

Will my child have breathing problems after palate surgery?

We will monitor your child closely for breathing problems after cleft palate repair. But your child most likely will not have any breathing problems. 

Some children’s tongues are swollen after surgery. If this happens, we will give your child medicine to reduce the swelling.

Will my child have breathing problems after VPI speech surgery?

While we will monitor your child closely for breathing problems after speech surgery. Your child most likely will not have any problems. Your child’s tongue or throat may be swollen. If this happens, your child will need medicine to reduce the swelling. 

If your child has snoring that lasts longer than a month, your surgeon may ask to enter your child into a sleep study to make sure your child doesn’t have sleep apnea.

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