Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery
A cleft lip and palate is the most common birth defect of the face. It involves a split in the upper lip and/or gap in the roof of the mouth and can cause feeding, speech, ear and dental problems. A cleft can appear in the lip or palate alone, or in both areas and on one or both sides of the mouth.
Reconstructive surgery is the recommended treatment for clefts. This surgery is usually performed when the child is three to six months for a cleft lip and nine to 14 months for a cleft palate. It is beneficial for your child to regularly meet with specialists to help develop the areas affected by the clefts.
Craniosynostosis is a birth defect in which one or more of the cranial sutures, the joints between the bones of the skull, closes before the brain is done growing. Other areas of the skull continue to grow, forming an abnormal skull shape. If too many sutures close, the brain may not properly develop. Surgery can be performed to relieve pressure on the brain and cranial nerves, as well as give the head an improved symmetry and appearance.
Deformational plagiocephaly is a condition in which the head takes on an asymmetrical shape. It is typically caused by placing an infant’s head in the same position too frequently. The pressure on a particular spot of the baby’s skull can result in a flattened area. Treatment for mild cases usually involves regularly changing your baby’s head positioning during sleep and during the day. For more severe cases, wearing a customized helmet to reshape the head may be necessary.
Hemifacial microsomia is a congenital deformity in which the lower half of one side of the face is underdeveloped and does not grow properly, resulting in abnormal ear and jaw development. After a cleft lip and palate, this condition is the most common facial birth defect. Surgery for hemifacial microsomia aims to restore facial symmetry and establish normal occlusion and joint junction. A customized surgical approach will provide the most effective results.
Apert syndrome is an inherited disorder that causes an early fusion of the plates of the skull, resulting in distortions of the face and head. It also affects other parts of the body including a fusing or webbing of the fingers and/or toes, abnormalities of the limbs, short stature and hearing loss. Surgery is an effective means of restoring proper bone structure to those with Apert syndrome.
The most common congenital form of craniosynotosis, Crouzon syndrome causes abnormalities in the shape of the face and head due to premature fusion of the bones of the skull. The symptoms of Crouzon syndrome include bulging wide-set eyes, vision problems and nose and jaw deformities. Craniofacial surgery is typically very successful in correcting abnormalities of the bone growth around the face, particularly if it is performed relatively early in development.
Pfeiffer syndrome is a genetic condition that involves the premature fusion of bones in the skull, hands and feet. It results in a misshapen head and face with wide-set bulging eyes, large forehead and nose and jaw deformities. Hearing loss and dental issues also commonly occur in Pfeiffer syndrome patients. The thumbs and big toes are broad and arch away from the other digits, and fingers and toes may be short and fused or webbed together. Treatment will require one or more surgeries to permit proper skull growth and correct abnormalities of the face.
Treacher Collins Syndrome
Treacher Collins syndrome is a genetic disorder resulting in abnormal development of the bones and tissue within the face. Children with this condition may have eyes that slant downward, sparse eyelashes, absent or unusually formed ears and vision or hearing loss. Symptoms can vary significantly in each patient. Reconstructive surgery for Treacher Collins syndrome may involve correction of the cheekbones, eyelids, jaw, chin, nose and ears, depending on each patient's individual condition.
A congenital nevus is a birthmark that has been present since birth. These moles are typically dark in color, may be hairy and sometimes expand as a child grows. They are important to monitor since they may increase the risk of skin cancer, particularly if the nevus is large. If the nevus is prominently located, especially on the face, it may affect self-esteem and cause social discomfort. Surgical procedures for removing nevi can be very effective in both reducing cancer risk and improving appearance.
Hemangiomas and Vascular Malformations
Vascular malformations are congenital defects that can affect veins, lymph vessels and arteries. These abnormal clusters of blood vessels may appear as a birthmark or a bump and can be painful. Some common types are hemangiomas, port wine stains and lymphangiomas. Vascular malformations begin forming during the fetal stage, but are not always noticeable immediately after birth. However, as a child grows so does the malformation and it will not go away without treatment.
Tissue Expansion for Removal of Lesions
The latest, often most effective method of treatment for removing lesions such as congenital nevi and vascular malformations is tissue expansion. This technique involves the placement of a silicone balloon beneath the skin and slowly filling it with saline. Tissue expansion stretches the skin over time, creating enough to cover the area from which the lesion is removed. Using your own skin ensures a similar color and thickness to the surrounding skin for the most aesthetically pleasing outcome.
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