If your child is about to go through an Alveolar Bone Graft Surgery I’m guessing you’re struggling to find help online. My son had this surgery when he was 6 years old (9 years ago) and back then information was hard to find. I did some research before writing this, and honestly, there’s still not a lot of help for parents trying to prepare for recovery and calm their nerves. Keep reading to find out my tips, tricks, and absolute must-haves to ensure your little one has a comfy recovery.
Cleft Lip In The Beginning
Just in case you’ve stumbled across my page and you’re still in the very beginning of this journey, I’ll catch you up!
**Disclaimer: my son was born 15 years ago with cleft lip and palate so some of this information may have changed over the last decade and a half***
The first surgery was to repair his lip. He had a bilateral cleft in his lip and it was repaired when he was 5 months old.
The second surgery was to repair his palate. This was repaired when he was 10 months old.
The first year is a ton of appointments and surgeries. It calms down until they are 6 and need to have bone grafting on their maxilla.
What’s an Alveolar Bone Graft?
In layman’s terms (because that’s all I know how to speak) it’s when they take a small bit of bone from the hip and place it up in the pallet to repair it.
This was a bit of a relief for me to get it done as my son had learned he could mash food up and push it into his palate and then sneeze it out of his nose. Super cool trick to make other 4-6-year-old kids laugh, not that fun for adults to have to see daily. So this was going to be an end to that “fun”.
Preparing For The Surgery
Mentally preparing yourself for the surgery is going to be the hardest. It never gets easier having your child go through surgery. I found it was easier to focus on what I could control instead of worrying about what I couldn’t control.
Talk to your child and let them know what to expect. I chose to be fully informative with my son and explained the process in terms he would understand. You know your child best though so do what feels safest for your Child’s peace of mind.
Pick up items to make it exciting. I took my son out shopping to pick up a few new pairs of PJs, a robe, and slippers. We also stocked up on fun things to do at the hospital. We were at the hospital for a week after his surgery, I’m not sure what the timeline is now, but you should prepare to be there for a while. Crafts, puzzles, books, games, etc are all great options. We went a bit overboard and purchased our son a DS (hand-held video game like the switch) as we knew he was going to be on bedrest and keeping a 6-year-old down is not an easy feat.
For more tips on how to prepare your child for surgery click here to learn more tips and tricks I have.
Alveolar Bone Graft Recovery Time
Again, this may have changed over the years. Our recovery time went like this:
- First week: at the hospital, on a liquid diet, no physical activity. We were encouraged to do small walks but nothing extreme.
- Second week: at home, on a liquid diet, no physical activity.
- Third and Fourth Week: at home, allowed to eat soft food (scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, overcooked pasta, etc), no physical activity.
- Fifth week into the eighth week: They can return to school (no gym class), Start slowly introducing harder food, and you can start increasing physical activity.
For more tips on soft food diets click here as I have a ton of ideas.
What You Will Want For Recovery Time
You’re in for a long couple of months. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is keep a 6-year-old on bedrest and not burst into tears when he would cry and tell me he’s starving (he wasn’t starving, but he wanted normal food, not soup and smoothies).
Things to consider:
- Make your child’s room comfy. lots of pillows, soft blankets, etc. Also, make them a permeant spot on the couch with their fav pillows and blankets. They’re gonna be spending a ton of time there watching tv and movies. Stock up on soft food and have a plan of how you’re going to get them their calories.
- If they have siblings you’re going to need a plan on how to feed them away from your child who’s recovering. My daughter is 4 years older than my son so she was allowed to eat in her room for 2 months so it wasn’t torturing my son. I ate when my son slept as I felt terrible eating in front of him. So be prepared for that.
- Figure out how you’re managing a child at home for a month if you’re working. We were super lucky as my husband was working night shifts. So He had my son during the day while I worked, and I had him during the night while he worked, and neither of us slept.
- Make arrangements with the school. They don’t HAVE to be out of school for the month, but I didn’t feel comfortable that a poor teacher with 30 students would have to ensure my son didn’t do something crazy like jump off a chair or eat a friend’s lunch. It was safer to keep him home and our school was amazing at assisting us with that.
If you have any tips, I would love to hear about them in the comment section!