Looking at 21 year old Jordan nowadays, you would never know that he’s seen the inside of an operating room seven times to reconstruct the unilateral cleft lip and palate he was born with. Jordan met Dr. Fernando Burstein when he was just ten years old after being referred to him by Dr. Frost, his pediatric surgeon in his family’s hometown of Pensacola, Florida.
Jordan and his family made the six hour drive from Florida to Dr. Burstein’s Atlanta Plastic Surgery office regularly as Jordan grew to ensure that the results from his pediatric reconstructive operations were healing as expected. Jordan recounts his many experiences with Dr. Burstein throughout the years: “Dr. Burstein made what is usually a scary experience for kids a much smoother one for me. He always made me laugh at my visits. In fact, I remember from the very beginning how he used to wear funny scrub caps during my appointment just for entertainment.”
Jordan’s congenital defect is not an uncommon one, occurring in 1 out of every 700 births, a cleft lip and palate happens when the soft tissues of the mouth don’t fuse properly during development. Patients with a unilateral cleft lip and palate usually have a cleft nose, cleft mouth, and maxilla (upper jaw). In addition to aesthetic concerns, reconstructive craniofacial surgery is typically desired to remedy the speech and eating problems that can also be caused if the condition is left untreated. Just as the case with most other pediatric reconstructive surgery procedures like craniosynostosis or jaw deformities, cleft lip and/or cleft palates typically require a series of reconstructive procedures to enhance the facial features as the child grows.
Jordan says that his life experience with reconstructive surgery and Dr. Burstein has been a humbling one. He is now studying religion and playing baseball at in college. While many think of reconstructive surgery as a means to look like everyone else, Jordan reflects on his experience stating, “All of my surgeries and having this condition has actually become a way for me to relate to people as I pursue a career in ministry. I try to teach the kids I work with to stay positive in their faith and not to worry regardless of the challenges they’re facing.” He still makes the drive to Atlanta; Dr. Burstein just completed his last reconstructive surgery this June. Jordan has one more procedure scheduled with an oral surgeon in the near future.
To learn more about the pediatric cleft lip and palate and adult cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgery Dr. Burstein performs visit his website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter to hear more stories from spotlight patients like Jordan.