Pediatric Plastic Surgery a Vital Service to Young People
Why Pediatric Plastic Surgery?
According to March of Dimes statistics, 120,000 children are born each year with birth defects. Of these, around 40,000 are in need of reconstructive surgery and are treated by trained teams of specialists which commonly include board certified pediatric plastic surgeons. In addition to congenital anomalies, children sometimes receive serious soft tissue injuries. Whether as a result of sports, motor vehicle accidents, animal bites, burns, falls, or just during play, their injuries may require plastic surgery repair to avoid permanent disfiguration and/or loss of function.
Common Birth Defects Requiring the Care of a Plastic Surgeon
Cranio-facial deformities are among the most common birth defects that plastic or cosmetic surgeons are called upon to repair. Of these, the most common relate to cleft palate or lip anomalies, Hemifacial microsomia (HFM), and ear malformations. Others include hand malformations, hemangiomas, and other benign vascular skin lesions.
Cleft palate and lip issues are the most common birth defect in the United States, with around one of every 594 newborns affected (6800 children each year). Hemifacial microsomia is the runner up, with 1 incident out of every 3500-4500 births. Ear deformities can be present in 1 out of 6,000 births.
Birth Defect Repair
Cleft defects are repaired between 10 weeks and 18 months of age, depending on the nature and extent of the anomaly. Because cleft issues can affect breathing, hearing, and speech, the goal is to achieve function, in addition to supporting a cosmetically pleasing appearance.
Ear deformities are best repaired when a child is around 5 years of age. Ear surgery, called otoplasty, reconstructs ears affected by microtia, anotia, and other defects. Often hearing is affected. The goal, then, is to restore function, a normal shape and position, and create a proportional, balanced appearance. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 11,268 otoplasty procedures were performed in 2011 on patients under the age of 18.
Pediatric Plastic Surgery vs. Bullying
The effects of bullying on children who do not look “normal” can be emotionally traumatic. Even when loss of function is not a primary concern, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery can make a world of difference in the life of a child in terms of mental health. For this reason, it is important to seek consultation with a plastic surgeon as early as is feasible. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers a helpful overview of congenital anomalies and the treatment for each.
Please call Janiga MDs if you would like a consultation about pediatric plastic surgery issues.