Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate Care at Columbia

Surgery to repair a cleft lip or cleft palate can be life-changing for a child. Columbia’s Craniofacial Center provides advanced care for children with facial conditions and complex facial deformities related to three main areas: 

  • Congenital (birth) defects
  • Trauma
  • Tumor or abnormal growth

As part of the #1 medical center and children’s hospital in New York, we look forward to putting our top-quality resources towards helping you and your child.  Our program proudly meets the high standards for Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Teams as set forth by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) and Cleft Palate Foundation (CPF). 

Considering surgery for your loved one can be stressful. We’re here to help, ready to answer your questions do everything we can to make the process as comfortable and straightforward as possible. To get started with our Craniofacial Center, call (212) 305-4346 or contact us through our online form.


Our Programs & Services

Complete Care for All Craniofacial Issues

Our team has experience treating every form of craniofacial issue, at all levels of severity and complexity. Specific areas of expertise at the Cleft & Craniofacial Center include:

  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Swallowing, hearing, and speech difficulties due to cleft palate and velopharyngeal insufficiency
  • Facial clefting syndromes, including Treacher Collins syndrome
  • Craniosynostosis syndromes, including Crouzon and Apert syndromes
  • Branchial arch syndromes
  • Craniofacial trauma
  • Facial and jaw tumors and occlusal discrepancies
  • Dentofacial deformities and malocclusion
  • Congenital deformities of the eyelids, eye muscles, and tear ducts
  • Vascular growths and malformations, including hemangiomas

A Commitment to Community

We don’t just perform surgeries on kids with craniofacial issues, we form lasting relationships with our patients and their families. That sense of community is important to us, and we frequently organize events so that members of our craniofacial family can meet each other, learn from one another, and support us all. 

As leaders in our field, we also feel a responsibility to bring our expertise to the global community. Team members regularly organize and participate in non-profit surgical missions to other countries, including Honduras and China, to treat children with cleft lips, cleft palates and other craniofacial problems.

Research

Members of the Craniofacial Center are at the forefront of research in the field, developing new treatments for speech disorders and new techniques to stimulate and promote cranial bone formation. They regularly publish articles, book chapters, and books, including one on soothing pain in children and another for mothers on providing medical care.


About Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip

Cleft palate is a condition that occurs when the roof of the mouth (aka the palate) does not completely close during development, leaving an opening, or cleft. The cleft may involve either side of the palate, though the left side is more common. It can extend from the front of a baby's mouth (hard palate) to the throat (soft palate). Cleft palate may occur on its own, or it may be associated with cleft lip. 

Cleft lip is a congenital condition in which the upper lip does not completely close during fetal development. The degree of the cleft lip can vary greatly, from mild (a small notching of the lip) to severe (a large opening from the lip up through the nose). Cleft lip is often more noticeable than cleft palate.

Craniofacial surgery for cleft lip alone can occur within the first few months of life, when the baby is 10-12 pounds. Because repairing a cleft palate is more complicated than repairing a cleft lip alone, these surgeries are typically performed when the child is 9-12 months old and will respond better to surgery.


Our Craniofacial Center Team

Because children born with cleft or craniofacial conditions often have other complex health conditions as well, they are best managed by a multi-specialist team including a surgeon, a pediatrician, a pediatric dentist, orthodontist, geneticist, otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor, or ENT), an audiologist, a speech-language pathologist, a nurse to help with feeding problems and oversee care, and other experts as needed.

To meet our Craniofacial Center team, call (212) 305-4346 or contact us through our online form.

Craniofacial Plastic Surgery

Jeffrey Ascherman, MD
Dr. Ascherman is an experienced plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has published over 75 scientific articles and chapters, and has been included multiple times in Castle Connolly’s list of America’s Top Doctors and in New York Magazine’s annual list of Best Doctors. He has been an active participant in humanitarian surgical missions, and has traveled numerous times to China as well as to South America to perform volunteer surgeries. Read more »

Thomas Imahiyerobo, MD
As Director of Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery, Dr. Imahiyerobo is a national leader in the treatment of cleft lip, cleft palate, craniosynostosis, frontal facial advancement and orthognathic (jaw) surgery. He also specializes in the care of adult cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the head and neck. When not performing surgery, he is focused on outcomes research for cleft lip and palate surgery, as well as the effects of craniosynostosis on pediatric cognitive development. Read more »

June K. Wu, MD
Dr. Wu is board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in pediatric reconstructive surgery and pediatric vascular anomalies. She trained at Boston Children’s Hospital before joining the team at Columbia. Read more »

Genetics

Neurosurgery

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Orthodontics

  • Robert Isaacson, DDS
  • June Harewood, DDS

Otolaryngology

Pediatrics

  • Melanie Gissen, MD

Pediatric Dentistry

  • Mary Giacona, MD
  • Steven Chussid, DDS

Pediatric Psychiatry

  • Maalobeeka Gangopadhyay, MD

Speech and Language Pathology

  • Arinne Tress, MS, CCC-SLP

Team Coordinator

  • Natalie Tavarez


Resources & More

Contact Information

Call (212) 305-4346 or contact us through our online form.

Washington Heights Office

Herbert Irving Pavilion, 5th Floor, Rm 511
161 Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY 10032
Get Maps & Directions »

Planning & Preparing

More Resources


To get started with our Craniofacial Center, call (212) 305-4346 or contact us through our online form.