Craniofacial Surgery

The craniofacial area includes the base of the skull, the facial skeleton and underlying soft tissues, the skull vaults and the scalp. Craniofacial surgery involves repairing damage caused by serious injuries as well as congenital deformities and abnormal growths such as tumors.

A multidisciplinary team: Craniofacial problems are almost always assessed by a team of specialists who render opinions and plan management of the work required. During the diagnosis (which takes about a day and a half), patients and families have a series of appointments with professionals in any the following fields:
  • facial surgery
  • adult general or pediatric dentistry
  • audiology
  • genetics
  • otolaryngology
  • oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • orthodontics
  • pediatrics
  • psychology
  • social work
  • speech pathology
  • other specialties as needed

Team members discuss their findings and develop an integrated treatment plan. Your doctor will meet with you to review the patient's needs and formulate a treatment approach.

During this consultation, you and your doctor will discuss the changes that the patient will experience. The particular procedures will be explained, including risks and limitations. Your doctor will also explain the kind of anesthesia required, the surgical facility and costs.

The size, nature and extent of the injury or deformity will determine what treatment option is chosen and how quickly the surgery will be performed. Reconstructive surgery frequently demands complex planning and may require a number of procedures done in stages. We always favor the most direct, least-complex way of achieving the desired result.

What to expect: Craniofacial surgery involves major reconstruction of bony or cartilaginous tissue. Because the affected part of the head may surround the eyes, ears, mouth and/or nose, special care will be taken to protect these areas. Speaking and chewing may be hampered, and in some cases will be prevented altogether, requiring feeding through a tube.

Recovery from some procedures, such as upper jaw surgery, can take up to six months, as the reset bone fragments slowly fuse back together. Discoloration and scarring will fade and improve in appearance in six to twelve months.

Results: Results vary with the condition being treated. Bony abnormalities are more easily corrected than those involving soft tissue. The amount of bone and soft tissue involved will often determine the final cosmetic result that can be obtained. In general, however, surgery of this type can improve or restore a patient's functioning and appearance, improving his/her body image and self-confidence as well.