Baby with cleft lip looking over adult's shoulder

Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and palate are common birth defects that can affect a child's looks and how they eat, hear, speak, and develop.

Board-certified plastic surgeon Stephen Hardy, MD, can use his training in advanced cosmetic surgery techniques to repair this condition.

Learn how Dr. Hardy of Northwest Plastic Surgery Associates correct your child's issues at his surgical center serving Missoula, MT.

Dramatic Cleft Repair from Our World-Class Surgeon

Before Cleft Palate Surgery
After Cleft Palate Surgery
If your child was born with a cleft palate or lip, it is extremely important that you contact our esteemed reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon as early as possible. Dr. Hardy and our warm, welcoming staff provide exceptional cleft palate treatment at our offices in Polson and Helena, MT.

Dr. Hardy has top-level experience performing life-changing cleft lip and palate repair surgery. Contact our Polson and Helena, MT, practices today for a consultation if these defects are present in your child. Dr. Hardy welcomes patients from Missoula and other communities throughout the great state of Montana.

A Closer Look at a Cleft Palate

Clefts can interfere with eating and development. Surgery can improve every aspect of your child's life.
A cleft palate involves an opening on the roof of the mouth (the hard palate) and the back of the mouth (the soft palate). A child may have a cleft on their upper lip in addition to a cleft in their hard or soft palate. Some children just have a cleft in their palate.

How Can Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Help My Child? This procedure...

  • Restores normal appearance
  • Improves breathing, feeding, and speaking functions
  • Can support psychological development
  • Enhances self-esteem as child grows
  • Improves development of mouth and teeth
  • Reduces risk of severe ear infections and hearing loss
  • Decreases chances of orthodontic or dental problems

Three Facts about Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery 

Number one

These procedures are typically performed between nine and 18 months of age and can address both small tears, and large or complete lip and palate separations. 

Number two

Dr. Hardy can use customized advanced procedures and state-of-the-art surgical tools to rebuild the palate by moving surrounding tissue on either side of the cleft towards the middle of the roof of the mouth.

Number three

This is followed by joining muscle tissue together, while leaving enough length to allow for normal eating and speech. In severe cases, Dr. Hardy may need to perform follow up surgeries as your child grows.

A Passion for Pediatric Cosmetic Surgery

Dr. Hardy has a strong passion for pediatric surgery. In fact, pediatric surgery is the reason why he wanted to be a plastic surgeon. The ability to be able to repair and restore normal function of a child’s mouth through cleft lip and palate surgery is an extremely rewarding experience. He has participated in many volunteer surgical missions to countries such as Nepal, Guatemala, Cuba, and Kazakhstan to help children with cleft lips and palates.

High Praise for Dr. Hardy's Practices Serving Missoula, MT


Renee Wyman


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Dr. Hardy and his staff are phenomenal. My son was born with a cleft lip and palate and has had multiple surgeries and I couldn’t have asked for a better doctor for him!

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Gayle Butler


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Dr. Steve Hardy and his staff are top notch. I have been a patient of Dr. Hardy’s for over ten years. He was with me through my fight against breast cancer and performed numerous surgeries and procedures on me for my mastectomy and reconstruction. He is a perfectionist and a kind and caring man. When I walk into his office I know I will always be taken care of.

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Choose an Understanding, Experienced Doctor For Your Child's Cleft Repair Surgery

When your child is born with a birth defect, you may feel scared or uncertain. As a parent, you want to do all that you can to help them. 

Our caring surgeon, Dr. Stephen P. Hardy, is here to guide you and your family through the process. He has helped numerous families and their children with cleft palate and cleft lip treatment.

Dr. Hardy is affiliated with the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). You and your family can trust him to resolve your child's upper lip or soft palate cleft and provide an overview of the cleft repair procedure.

To begin your child's cleft repair treatment, reach out to our Missoula area offices or call:

(406) 728-3811

Dr. Hardy
Fortunately, most cases of cleft lips and cleft palates are correctable. Dr. Hardy can explain your child's path at his Missoula area offices.

Your Family Is Not Alone


If your child was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, you may feel alone. However, according to the CDC, as many as 1 in 1,600 children will be born with these fairly common birth defects. They're also a correctable craniofacial condition, which means your child can live a long and happy life after the cleft repair procedure.

"The best you will find." Why Missoula, MT, Area Patients Trust Dr. Hardy


LaVerna Munro


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The best you will find , compassionate and highly skilled. Don’t bother leaving Montana to find another. Dr Hardy is the best.

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Jessica Mumm


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Dr. Hardy and all the staff are wonderful! It was a comfortable, informative, & great experience. Dr. Hardy’s work is amazing!

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How Old Must My Child Be To Have Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Treatment?

Typically, your child must be at least three to six months old to receive treatment for their cleft lip. For their cleft palate or a combination of both, they have to wait until ages 9-18 months. Once they reach that age, the sooner they undergo cleft surgery, the better, especially given the increased risk of ear infections and orthodontic problems.

You do not have to wait three months before talking to a doctor. In fact, we recommend that parents reach out proactively since surgeries can take three or four weeks to be scheduled.

Parents can contact our Missoula, MT, area offices to begin learning about their options.

Kid after having cleft lip surgery in stroller

Insurance Coverage For Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Treatment

Your insurance will likely cover at least some of the costs of cleft lip and cleft palate treatment. We will give you a quote at your cleft repair consultation so that you know what to expect. You can also discuss the pricing of birth defect correction with your insurance provider ahead of time.

Stephen P. Hardy, M.D.

Stephen P. Hardy, M.D.

Dr. Stephen P. Hardy is a renowned plastic surgeon with prestigious national affiliations:

  • American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
  • American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA)

To schedule your consultation, contact us online or call us at (406) 728-3811.

Contact Us (406) 728-3811

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