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At Mercy, we cherish each child as created wholly in the image of God. But sometimes damaging birth defects can be detrimental to a child’s overall self-image, leaving both physical and emotional scars.
Craniofacial anomalies are birth defects of the face or skull. Most conditions will affect how a child’s face or head looks. Plastic or reconstructive surgery can help repair the body’s natural image in most cases.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are two of the most common craniofacial anomalies. Others may include craniosynostosis syndromes (misshapen skull), hemangioma (red birthmark) and vascular malformation.
There is no single cause of a child’s craniofacial anomaly. Instead, many factors can contribute to a child’s unique circumstances, including genetics, environment and folic acid deficiency, which is the lack of a certain B vitamin found in leafy green vegetables.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are known birth defects where a child’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. It occurs when the body tissue and special cells don’t join completely, creating a gap in the upper lip (cleft) or the roof of the mouth (palate).
Cleft lip and cleft palate repairs are usually performed between the ages of 9 to 18 months, but before 24 months. Recovery times for children are usually faster the earlier the procedure is performed in their lives.
Craniofacial surgery is a type of reconstructive surgery that repairs deformities of the head, skull, face and other related musculoskeletal structures. It can help to restore normal functionality as well as the body’s natural image.
There may be many specialists involved in your child’s craniofacial surgery, depending on the type of surgery being performed. For example, if your child is having an operation performed on their ear, your Mercy surgeon will work closely with an audiologist.
Mercy has experienced pediatric surgeons in most of our communities.
Find a pediatric surgeon near you.