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Face Defects / Deformities

Synonyms: Facial Defects / Deformities, Craniofacial Deformities

What are Face Defects / Deformities?

Face Defects / Deformities, also known as Facial Defects / Deformities are deformities in the growth of the skull and facial bones. These are congenital deformities (present at birth) and can be corrected by reconstructive surgery. Face Defects / Deformities can be Craniofacial Deformities (affecting the skull), Maxillofacial Deformities (affecting the upper jaw) and Dentofacial Deformities (affecting the bony structure and teeth).

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What are the different types of Face Defects / Deformities?

  • Cleft Lip - Cleft Lip or Hare Lip is a birth defect where the upper lip is split or separated either in the middle, on one side or on both the sides.
  • Cleft Palate - Cleft Palate is a condition when there is a cleft or a gap in the palate or the hard part of the roof of your mouth
  • Facial Cleft - This is a rare Face Defect / Deformity where a bone or skin in the middle of the face may be missing.
  • Craniosynostosis - This is a congenital Face Defect where the sutures (fibrous joints) of the skull bones fuse inappropriately and prematurely.
    • Plagiocephaly - In this type of Face Defect / Deformity, the forehead and the brow stop growing. This Face Defect / Deformity produces a flattening of the forehead and the brow on the affected side while the forehead on the opposite side tends to be excessively prominent.
    • Brachycephaly - This type of Craniofacial Deformity refers to a wide and high forehead region to be wide and high and the eyes may appear wide apart.
    • Trigonocephaly - In this type of Face Defect / Deformity, the forehead looks pointed, like a triangle, with closely placed eyes. This Face Defect occurs due to closure of a suture that runs from the top of the head down the middle of the forehead, toward the nose.
    • Scaphocephaly - This type of Face Defect / Deformity occurs when the suture that runs front to back, down the middle of the top of the head fuses prematurely. As a result, the shape of the skull becomes long and narrow. The skull is long from front to back and narrow from ear to ear.
  • Facial Palsy - This occurs due to paralysis of the facial nerve. In this kind of Face Defect, there is loss of control over facial expressions.
  • Chin Deformity - In this type of Face Defect / Deformity the chin is unusually small (mirognathia) or may be unusually large (macrognathia)
  • Upper Jaw (Maxillary) Deformity - One of the most common type of Upper Jaw (Maxillary) Deformity is called vertical maxillary excess. In this Facial Defect, there is excess bone of the upper jaw, the face appears long, the chin is recessed and the nose large in the profile view.
  • Lower Jaw (Mandibular) Deformity - There are two most common mandibular deformities; mandibular excess (protrusion) and mandibular deficiency (retrusion).
  • Deformational Plagiocephaly - This refers to asymmetrical shape of the head from repeated pressure to the same area of the head. This kind of Craniofacial Deformity usually results from keeping the infant's head in one position for long periods of time or it also be due to torticollis which is persistent tilt of the head to one side.
  • Vascular Malformations - Also known as lymphangioma, anteriovenous malformations or vascular gigantism. Vascular malformations are present at birth and increase in size as the child grows.
  • Hemangiomas - Also unknown as port wine stain, strawberry Hemangiomas and salmon patch. These are also called birth marks and mostly are present at birth (congenital).
  • Hemifacial Microsomia - In this Face Defect, the soft tissues and bones of the ear, mouth and jaw areas on one side of the face are under developed.
  • Microtia - In this Facial Deformity, the ear on one or both sides does not grow properly and may be accompanied by atresia of the ear canal.

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How are Face Defects / Deformities treated?

The optimal time to seek surgical treatment for your child to repair Face Defects is before one year of age since the bones are still very soft and easy to work with. Surgical intervention may be necessary at a much earlier age depending upon the severity of Craniofacial Deformity. In some cases, surgery may have to be performed in stages to obtain optimum results. Your child's healthcare team will comprise of several health professionals (Craniofacial Team) with different expertise to assess and monitor your child's progress as he/she grows up. The Craniofacial Team will educate you and your family on how to best care for your child at home, and will also outline specific problems that require immediate medical attention. It is important to note that Craniofacial Deformities do not exist in isolation and may be accompanied by other congenital abnormalities.

  • Cleft Lip - The surgery for Cleft Lip is performed as a single procedure which also closes the nostril deformity. Bilateral Cleft Lip sometimes requires two surgeries. Depending on how extensive the birth defect is, surgery for Cleft Lip can take anywhere from 2 - 3 hours.
  • Cleft Palate - This attempt at restoration of normal anatomy of mouth would hopefully enable your child to eat and speak properly over time. The operation to repair Cleft Palate may take 2 - 3 hours and your child will be required to stay in the hospital for 3 - 4 days.
  • Craniosynostosis - The goal of surgical treatment to treat this Face Defect is to reduce the pressure in the head and correct the deformities of the face and skull bones. Following the operation to correct this Facial Deformity, it is common for the child to have a turban-like dressing around his / her head. The head may be reshaped by a non-surgical method i.e. a cranial molding helmet which allows growth in areas which appear flattened, and restricts growth in areas which appear prominent.
  • Hemengiomas - Hemangiomas can sometimes be quite disfiguring and may require treatment which may consist of steroid medications, embolization of blood vessels or removal by laser or surgical excision. Following surgical excision, your surgeon may perform Skin Grafting or use the technique of Skin Flap Grafting to reconstruct the damaged tissue.
  • Vascular Malformations - Facial Defects due to Vascular Malformations can be treated either by laser therapy (capillary malformations or port wine stains), embolization (arterial malformations) or by direct injection of a sclerosing, (clotting) medicine (venous malformations).
  • Deformational Plagiocephaly - This Craniofacial Deformity can be treated non-surgically. This can be done by alternating you child's sleep position (re-positioning) may resolve this problem. If the deformity is severe and cannot be resolved by re-positioning, then a remodeling band or helmet may be recommended. the helmet is made of a hard outer shell and soft inner lining and will help in correcting this deformity by applying mild pressures to inhibit growth in the prominent areas and allowing for growth in the flat regions.
  • Hemifacial Microsomia - For severely underdeveloped lower jaw, reconstruction using a bone graft taken from the ribs may be recommended. The external ear and the soft tissue of the cheeks would be reconstructed to attain facial symmetry.
  • Chin Deformity - This deformity can be treated by osseous genioplasty, or bony chin advancement, which is a simple procedure that moves a patient's own chin. Variety of facial implants can also be used to correct this Facial Deformity. Unusually large chins can be treated by bone reduction.

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What will my child's Craniofacial Team comprise of?

Craniofacial team will comprise of pediatrician, pediatric plastic surgeon with expertise in Craniofacial Deformities, neurosurgeon, pediatric dentist, orthodontist, speech therapist, E.N.T. specialist, eye specialist, hearing specialist, psychiatrist, social worker and genetic counselor. Your child's craniofacial team will play a very important role in his care, education and rehabilitation that would be on-going depending on his or her needs.

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What is Distraction Osteogenesis procedure to treat Face Defects / Deformities?

Distraction Osteogenesis (DO) - Also known as Bone Expansion. The method of Distraction Osteogenesis stimulates natural growth of new bone by stretching eventually leading to widening and lengthening of upper and lower jaw. Distraction Osteogenesis involves making small cuts in your jaw bone and applying forces by a distraction apparatus (DO device) which is attached to the teeth. The new bone will be formed (to fill the gaps in between the cuts) in response to the forces applied by this apparatus. The DO device is adjusted periodically until the desired lengthening and widening of the jaw bones is achieved. The device stays in place for about six to eight weeks to ensure that the gap is filled-in with stable new bone. It is removed in the operating room under sedation. New bone grows at the rate of one millimeter per day. Bone distraction requires two surgeries, one to implant the device and another to remove the device after the desired bone growth is achieved. It takes about six weeks for the new bone to heal and consolidate, and the device usually leaves only small scars. Distraction Osteogenesis is performed in 2 stages; first stage is implantation of the DO device and the second stage is removal of DO device.

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What is the outcome of procedure(s) to treat Face Defects / Deformities?

The procedure(s) to treat Face Defects / Deformities have a good success rate provided they are diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion. A multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of Face Defects / Deformities has improved the management strategies and thus the outcomes. The multidisciplinary team provides care and support for the medical, physical, and psychosocial needs of the child and the family.

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B . R . A . N . D . of corrective treatments for
Face Defects / Deformities

Benefits of corrective treatments for Face Defects / Deformities

  • With the availability of state-of-art computer imaging system, you will have a better idea of the results that might be achieved by surgical intervention. A formal treatment plan will be put together utilizing the skills and expertise of craniofacial team. Corrective treatments for Face Defects / Deformities will most definitely improve the esthetics of your child's face, it will also improve breathing and feeding problems that are associated with Face Defects / Deformities.

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Risks of corrective treatments for Face Defects / Deformities

Like all other Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery procedures, corrective treatments for Face Defects / Deformities involves the risk of complications including:

  • Asymmetry of your child's face - This a common problem when one side of your mouth and nose do not match the other side. In such a case, a revision surgery is performed to try and match both the sides of the face as closely as possible.
  • Incomplete repair of the Face Defects / Deformities - A second operation or revision surgery may be required for complete correction.
  • Infection of the incision site
  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding, swelling, bruising and delayed healing - It is normal to have some bruising and oozing of bloody discharge from the face areas which will soon subside.

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Alternatives to corrective treatments for Face Defects / Deformities

  • The treatment options discussed above are the best available for children born with Craniofacial Deformities.

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Now or Never

  • Face Defects / Deformities can range from mild abnormalities of the teeth to extensive deformities involving the entire face and skull. Sophisticated reconstructive surgical techniques yield tremendously gratifying and outstanding aesthetic and functional results.

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Decision to have corrective treatments for Face Defects / Deformities

  • Each child's and family's needs are unique for corrective treatments for Face Defects / Deformities and the treatment plans are customized to meet all of a child's physical and emotional needs i.e. from special dietary or language requirements, to educational or emotional considerations.

Keywords: Distraction Osteogenesis, Facial Cleft, Deformities of Skull, Craniofacial Deformities, Hemengiomas, Vascular Malformations, Port Wine Stain, Chin Deformity, Bone Expansion, Jaw Deformity, Mandibular Deformity, Maxillary Deformity, Upper Jaw Deformity, Lower Jaw Deformity, Plagiocephaly, Brachicephaly, Facial Palsy

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