Dedicated plastic surgeons perform pediatric reconstructive surgeries and change the course of a child’s life. Plastic surgeries for the smallest patients address congenital and accident problems.
Plastic and reconstructive surgery treats more than the signs of ageing. At hospitals and clinics around the world, plastic surgeons use their skills to help the smallest patients: treating children’s problems from congenital issues they were born with to acquired defects and results of accidents. For these young plastic surgery candidates, the skills of the dedicated surgeons can be life-changing.
Expertise is available for cleft lips and palates, deformities of the skull, jaw and face — called craniomaxillofacial — congenital and acquired deformities of the ears, feet or hands, blood vessel malformations and both soft tissue and musculoskeletal defects throughout the body.
In many of these cases, multi-disciplinary teams will work in tandem. A team specialising in repair of a cleft palate is assisted by pediatric specialists in audiology, dentistry, opthamology and oral surgery — and perhaps will call in additional experts in speech pathology, orthodontics and developmental psychology. They correct the physical problem surgically and work together treating other symptoms resulting from the deformity, aiding the patient through recovery and adjustment. The long-term welfare of the child is primary.
Pierre Robin Syndrome
One of the most innovative and life-altering surgeries treats Pierre Robin Syndrome, a genetic disorder that is characterised by a cleft palate and very small lower jaw which can cause critical difficulty for an infant or small child trying to breathe and eat independently. The child is in constant danger of airway obstruction when the tongue falls back into the throat. A revolutionary surgical procedure called mandibular distraction osteogenisis has surgeons implanting a device into the jaw to help lengthen the bone and attached muscle, allowing the child to breathe on their own. A few hospitals have had success with this procedure in recent years. The bone is created using the body’s own chemistry, and after a period of weeks, the implant device can be removed. When successfully performed, this procedure allows the child to be sent home without the need for monitors or machines to assist their breathing.
Giving a child a better life
Plastic surgery is also used on children for acute traumatic injuries, skin tumors such as moles and cysts, and reconstruction following burns. Hand, foot and breast deformities can be corrected with surgery. The group Doctors Without Borders is often recognised for its work in third world and economically disadvantaged countries. The plastic surgeons who volunteer and travel with the program perform life-altering reconstructive surgeries on children from many nations, giving them a new chance and enabling them to lead better lives, free from the stigma of their condition.