Facial Abnormalities in Children
The Medical Director of Children’s Center for Craniofacial Disorders since 1989 and Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite from 1991 to 2001, Dr. Fernando Burstein performs maxillofacial surgery to correct facial abnormalities in children due to congenital defects (those they were born with) as well as the result of traumatic injury that may occur later in life. Because reconstructive surgery for facial abnormalities often requires a series of procedures as the child grows, most parents elect to begin the reconstructive process when their children are infants or very young (pre-school age). Given Dr. Burstein’s expertise however, adults are also suitable candidates for facial reconstructive procedures as well like adult cleft lip and palate correction or reconstructive rhinoplasty. Some of the most common facial abnormalities in children include the following:
- Birthmarks/ Hemangiomas: concentrated areas of hyperpigmentation, also known as port wine stains, that appear as red spots on the face or neck. Typically present at birth and fade as the child ages, severe hemangiomas may require surgery with skin grafting techniques.
- Brachycephaly: craniofacial condition symptomized by a wide forehead that causes the eyes to appear far apart on the face.
- Chin Deformity: The over development or underdevelopment of the jaw bone that causes the chin to appear disproportionate with the rest of the facial features. This is typically corrected through corrective chin surgery or genioplasty.
- Cleft Lip: Congenital defect that causes a split in the middle, on one side, or both sides of the lip. Other symptoms that accompany a cleft lip, also known as Hare Lip, include misalignment of teeth and/or the jaw (Malocclusion), missing teeth, or breathing and eating problems.
- Cleft Palate: Congenital defect cause by a split in the soft tissues of the roof of the mouth corrected with cleft palate reconstruction. This condition often appears in conjunction with a cleft lip.
- Craniosynostosis: Deformity of the skull caused when the plates that makeup the skull fuse improperly during development and result in a misshapen appearance.
- Deformational Plagiocephaly: Asymmetrical head shape in infants caused by continued pressure to the same area of the skull while the bones are growing.
- Facial Cleft: Missing skin and bone that causes a cleft in the middle of the face. While rare, this facial defect requires reconstructive surgery to correct.
- Hemifacial Microsomia: Congenital defect, also known as HFM, causing an underdevelopment of bone, fat, or soft tissues in the mouth, jaw, or ears that leads to an unsymmetrical facial appearance.
- Mandibular (Lower Jaw) Deformity : Birth defect resulting in a mandibular excess (protrusion) or mandibular deficiency (retrusion) of the lower jaw corrected though reconstructive surgery of the jaw.
- Maxillary (Upper Jaw) Deformity: Congenital defect resulting in a vertical maxillary excess, or recessed chin, in which the face and jaw appear abnormally large by proportion.
- Microtia: Improper growth of the ear during fetal development on one or both sides of the head resulting in closure of the ear canal (atresia) or missing portions of the external ear remedied with reconstructive otoplasty.
- Plagiocephaly: The underdevelopment of forehead and brow bone causing one side of the head to appear flattened while the other appears prominent.
- Scaphocephaly: A type of craniosynostosis in which the suture (fibrous joint) of the middle skull fuses prematurely during development and results in a long, narrow skull shape.
- Trigonocephaly: malformation of the skull that causes the forehead to appear pointed and the eyes very close together. The facial defect is remedied through craniofacial reconstructive surgery.
- Vascular Malformations: Birth defect affecting the veins and arteries increasingly with growth. Common types include lymphangioma, vascular gigantism, and the most serious type, anteriovenous malformations.