Sometimes, children are born with congenital malformations, which are physical anomalies that can be recognized at birth. These birth defects are usually a result of an interaction of multiple factors, such as environment, genetics, and lifestyle choices. Many such birth defects may have no determinable cause.
The full impact of these birth defects varies. Some may not affect the child’s quality of life, while others can pose problems. Some can lead to disability or even death; these require surgical intervention as soon as possible.
Certain birth defects can be corrected before the child’s birth or immediately after. There are any number of birth defects that can be repaired through reconstructive surgery – and the surgeon at Plastic Surgery Associates has the knowledge, skill and experience to help. Examples of these deformities include skin lesions, vascular anomalies, malformations of the ear, hand or foot, and other more profound craniofacial deformities.
Types of Birth Defects
Skin Lesions: These include birthmarks like melanocytic nevi and sebaceous nevi, various types of rashes, and cysts.
Vascular Anomalies: These are discolored marks made up of malformed blood vessels. Examples include macular stains, hemangiomas, and port-wine stains.
Ear Malformations: Many congenital ear conditions exist. These include Stahl’s ear (a pointed rim), microtia (underdeveloped areas of the ear), lop ear (folded rim), and anotia (missing ear).
Hand Malformations: There are a number of congenital conditions affecting the hands or fingers. Syndactyly is a condition in which fingers are either fused together or webbed. Oligodactyly is a term for the condition in which fingers are missing. Polydactyly refers to being born with extra digits. Ectrodactyly refers to a split in the hands.
Foot Malformations: Congenital foot issues can include clubfoot (foot is turned inward or downward), arch deformities, polydactyly, syndactyly, oligodactyly, and ectrodactyly.
Craniofacial Deformities: These can include hemifacial microsomia (underdeveloped parts of one side of the face) and craniosynostosis (premature soft-spot closure affecting skull growth).
Once the patient has a complete understanding of the procedure and post-surgical care, a surgical plan can then be created. For children, because growth is still occurring, the doctor will need to take this growth in account when planning certain procedures.
To begin these types of procedures, the patient will need to come in for a consultation. This consultation will consist of a physical exam, a discussion of the patient’s complete medical history, and setting up imaging studies to fully understand the issue being corrected. These imaging studies may include X-Rays, MRIs, and CT scans. The ramifications of the surgery will also be discussed, including any psychological, social, and lifestyle ramifications.
Reconstructive surgery is typically performed with the help of general anesthesia. The procedure may take up to six hours depending on the type of corrective techniques required.
After Reconstructive Surgery: What to Expect
Once a reconstructive procedure has been completed, a hospital stay may be required so that the patient can recover under medical supervision. During the recovery process, pain medications will be taken, along with antibiotics. Dressings will be changed, and specific diets may be followed as required.
Follow-up procedures may be necessary depending on the nature of the issue being corrected. Follow-up visits will be needed to ensure that the healing process is going as expected and that there are no complications.
Please contact Associates in Plastic Surgery if you are considering reconstructive surgery for cleft lip/cleft palate or other birth defects. Scheduling a consultation is the best way to find out more about the process.