About Operation Smile

Every 3 minutes,

a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate and may suffer from




We envision a future where health and dignity are improved through safe surgery.

Operation Smile revolutionized cleft surgery globally in 1982. With nearly four decades of experience as one of the largest surgical volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile staff, its private-public partnerships and thousands of volunteers have improved the health and dignity of patients with cleft conditions, helping them to better breathe, eat, speak and live lives of greater quality and confidence. While one cleft surgery can transform a child’s life in as little as 45 minutes, Operation Smile is committed to providing patients with health that lasts by being there to offer patients additional surgeries, dentistry, psychological services, speech therapy and other essential cleft treatments. Its training and education programs elevate local surgical standards and entire health systems, aid safe surgery and enable a global network to reach more people earlier in their lives. 

Medical Missions

General Process

Children, parents and family have traveled – some for hours or days
– by car, by bus or by foot to be here, at an Operation Smile medical mission.

They’re hopeful. They’re anxious.

And for some, this day couldn’t have come sooner.


Patients and parents arrive at mission site.

Medical Missions

Volunteer Team

Over the years, we’ve perfected the medical mission model. On an international mission, medical and nonmedical volunteers from around the world come together and work seamlessly to deliver exceptional care to our patients.