Living with a Cleft Lip and a Cleft Palate

Alesha was born with a bilateral cleft palate and cleft lip, but the condition wasn't completely fixed when she was a child. She says she frequently was bullied and teased when she was growing up. "It was very, very lonely," she recalls.

Cleft palate and cleft lip are splits in the roof of the mouth and the upper lip, which result when the tissues don't fuse together, or only partially fuse together, during development in the womb. In a bilateral cleft palate, there are two splits, which divide the lip into three segments.

Having a cleft palate can affect the eustachian tubes, which help the body fight infections. Alesha says she has taken so many antibiotics for her chronic sinus and ear infections that the enamel of her teeth has been eroded, and they have fallen out.

Alesha, who is 35, says it's difficult to get a job and date because of her appearance.

"I would love to be able to smile like everybody else. I've never had that moment where I can just smile unreserved," she says. "I try not to let myself hope, because hope can be very dangerous. If there was a magic wand to fix everything, I would be a new person."

The Doctors send Alesha for a consultation with doctors at the Southern Nevada Cleft Palate & Craniofacial Clinic, and the team discusses the procedures that would be required to fix Alesha's cleft lip and palate, improve her speech and hearing, and restore her smile. She joins The Doctors days after the consultation to share her experience and reveal whether it has given her any hope.

Update:
The team of specialists at Southern Nevada Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Clinic join The Doctors to discuss the complicated process to transform Alesha, and she reveals her incredible new look.

“I asked you guys for normal; you gave me stunning,” Alesha says to her team of doctors. “I don’t have words to say, ‘Thank you’ enough for everything you guys have done.”

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