Our April Spotlight Patient Underwent Cleft Palate and Nose Reconstruction

dr. fernando burstein cleft patientNatalie has been in surgery more times in her young life than most people do their whole lives. Born with a cleft lip and palate, Natalie has undergone multiple procedures from birth to help remedy the congenital disorder. After moving to the United States from England, her parents found Dr. Burstein—who came highly recommended. He worked along with a team of surgeons on her initial cleft palate reconstruction. When she was 16, Natalie and Dr. Burstein discussed the changes she wanted to accomplish and a potential final surgery. However, her parents were worried that her facial features would change as she grew, and decided to hold off until she had fully matured.

Years later at her parents’ suggestion, Natalie went to see Dr. Burstein again to complete her final surgery.  She underwent a final cleft palate reconstruction including genioplasty (chin surgery) to augment her chin, which never fully developed as a result of her cleft palate, and a rhinoplasty in which cartilage from her ear was used to help reconstruct her nose.

Nowadays, Natalie spends her time working in real estate with her family’s firm and is interested in working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to help children who have cleft palates overcome social barriers. “It’s so easy to get off track in school, especially, when you don’t have a support system like I did, which is why I’d love to work with teens with similar cleft issues so they aren’t derailed from learning.” Natalie, who understands the teasing and speech difficulties often caused by the condition, attended speech classes to help her speak normally before her surgeries.

When asked how she felt about Dr. Burstein and his medical team, Natalie can remember nothing but positive experiences. “I feel like I’ve known him all my life, and I couldn’t imagine having anyone else do my surgery.” She’s even recommended Dr. Burstein to a few friends who were interested in rhinoplasty, saying that his patients look the same, but have subtle improvements in all the areas they wanted.

Her life after the surgery is great, Natalie says. “I’ve always had a positive life, but after the surgery I feel good about myself from within. It’s nice to go on a date or drive a car and not worry about your profile.”

Dr. Burstein is highly trained in pediatric and adult reconstructive surgery and even served as the Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) at Scottish Rite from 1991 to 2001 and is currently the director of the Center for Craniofacial disorders for CHOA. For more information on plastic surgery with Dr. Burstein, contact our office.  You can also follow Dr. Burstein and his medical team on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.