When a child is born with a craniofacial diagnosis, parents often express feeling disoriented or isolated, thinking that their child must be the only one. Yet, craniofacial conditions are common in the United States and around the world. In the United States, nearly one in 1,200 infants born each year have a cleft lip or cleft palate. These conditions range from mild, barely noticeable skull disorders to severe cases of cleft separation that interfere with the child’s ability to eat and suckle.
To ensure the child’s best interest, their pediatrician might recommend seeing a pediatric craniofacial surgeon who works to restore not only the child’s facial structures, but to improve their health, physical appearance and wellbeing.
What Does a Pediatric Craniofacial Surgeon Do?
A pediatric craniofacial surgeon is a highly trained physician who has undergone years of specialized training to work specifically with children who have skull or facial structure anomalies. While many of these cases result from birth defects, others are caused by accidents or injuries.
Some of the most common issues our surgeons address include:
- Cleft lip
- Cleft palate
- Craniofacial microsomia (when one side of the lower part of the face develops to a smaller scale than the other)
- Craniosynostosis (anomalies where the skull plates join)
- Misshapen ears
- Plagiocephaly (misshapen skull)
- Facial paralysis
- Orthognathic problems (abnormal structure or growth of the jaw that can lead to sleep apnea)
When it comes to craniofacial surgery, our pediatric craniofacial surgeons recommend a multidisciplinary approach, collaborating with a dedicated team of physicians and specialists that could include pediatric anesthesiologists, ophthalmologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric ENT’s, and speech therapists. By incorporating everyone into one team, we can better address all of a child’s needs impacted by their diagnosis.
Using a combination of plastic and reconstructive surgery techniques, our pediatric craniofacial surgeons develop an individualized treatment plan to address each child’s unique situation. In many cases of congenital craniofacial anomalies, multiple, strategically-timed surgeries are necessary throughout the child’s development. Depending on each individual case, surgeries may be required as early as the first few days of life or it may be strategic to wait several months or years.
Pediatric Craniofacial Surgeons Do More Than Just Surgery
Not all craniofacial anomalies require invasive surgery. Depending on the child’s needs, some conditions can be treated with minimally invasive procedures, starting as early as a few weeks after birth. Even large cleft lips and cleft palates can benefit from nasoalveolar molding (NAM). Similar to a dental retainer, these mouth devices help direct the growth of the gums and palate, closing the separation that occurs without surgery.
Similarly, infants with ear deformities often do not need surgery, but can instead undergo ear molding. Like an orthodontist uses braces to align teeth, our craniofacial surgeons specialize in using ear molds as braces for the ears.
In addition to treating these craniofacial abnormalities, our surgeons address significant skin issues, such as giant congenital nevi, cystic lesions, scar deformities, moles and keloids.
Regardless of the scope of the child’s condition, our pediatric plastic surgeons provide comprehensive care to help the child heal and reduce the physical, emotional and social impact of their congenital condition.
Pediatric Craniofacial Surgeons
If your child has a craniofacial anomaly, seek the best care possible with our doctors at Wellspring Craniofacial Group. Contact our office today at (512) 600-2888 to schedule your child’s initial consultation with a pediatric craniofacial surgeon.