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Pediatric Plastic Surgery

"Children are not small adults!"


Updated December 06, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

back-sto-sleep positioning

Baby Sleeping on Back

Yuji Kotani / Getty Images

"Children are not small adults!" This is a phrase you’ll hear my pediatric colleagues say about their patients. And it’s true! Because children are still growing, they must be treated so that their full potential –- both mental and physical –- is not detrimentally affected.

Pediatric plastic surgery is an extremely specialized field. The major issue pediatric plastic surgeons must confront (aside from anxious parents) is the fact that their patients are still growing. Any procedure they perform has to help the child at the time the procedure is done without compromising future growth.

  • Burns
  • Children are more susceptible to burns than adults. Because they are smaller, a burn that may pose no problem in an adult can cause a major problem in a child. Learn all about different burn types and which types of burn require medical attention.

  • Craniosynostosis
  • Ten fingers, ten toes, a button nose... and a crooked skull? Even a seemingly minor abnormality can throw new parents for a loop. So what about when an abnormality involves the shape of their new baby’s head? When the skull bones fuse too early, an abnormal head shape occurs. This is called craniosynostosis. It is a treatable condition. Learn all about the basics of a misshapen head caused by craniosynostosis.

  • Types of Craniosynostosis
  • A misshapen head that is seen at birth can take on many different forms when the cause is craniosynostosis. The shape of the head is based upon which of the skull bones have fused together prematurely. Fused skull bones at the front of the head will produce a different head shape than bones that have fused at the side of the head, the top of the head, or the back of the head.

  • Positional Plagiocephaly
  • Craniosynostosis is not the only cause of abnormally shaped heads. When a head is misshapen due to a baby lying in the same position for long prolonged periods of time, it is called positional plagiocephaly. The constant pressure at the site starts to push on the area and flatten it. Read here to learn how to avoid this condition and how to treat positional plagiocephaly if it has already occurred.

  • What Is A Cleft Lip?
  • Cleft lip is a common facial deformity. It can be barely perceptible to exceedingly obvious. Any amount of lip deformity can cause angst. Fortunately, a cleft lip deformity can be repaired. Cleft lip repair is one of the favorite procedures performed by plastic surgeons. It is so rewarding that some plastic surgeons willingly volunteer their time and skills to repair these deformities.

  • What Is A Cleft Palate?
  • A cleft palate is an entirely different deformity than a cleft lip. It is true that they can occur together, but a cleft palate affects the roof of the mouth while a cleft lip is confined to the lip. Unlike a cleft lip, a cleft palate may not be seen at first glance. However, it is a defect in which repair is necessary to perform normal daily activities. Cleft palate can affect eating, drinking, speech, and hearing.

  • Goals and Timing of Cleft Lip Repair
  • When is the proper time to repair a cleft lip? And why is it important that a cleft lip is repaired? These are just some of the questions that are on the mind of any parent whose child has this deformity. Many factors are taken into consideration when considering when to repair a cleft lip. First and foremost of course is that the child is healthy and can survive surgery.

  • Goals and Timing of Cleft Palate Repair
  • If a child has both a cleft lip and a cleft palate, the palate repair almost always follows cleft lip repair. Whereas a repair of a cleft lip has a clearly cosmetic component to it, the reasons for repairing a cleft palate are based more on function and less on appearance.

  • Microtia
  • Many people often take for granted the ability to wear glasses. Without two ears, this simple task becomes more difficult. Children born without an ear or ears face both psychological and hearing problems. Pediatric plastic surgeons can create an ear which is close in shape and form to a natural ear.

  • Prominent Ears
  • Big ears or ears that stick out too far from the head (also known as “prominent ear”) can be a source of psychological trauma. While it's not a life-threatening condition, correcting prominent ears can have a huge positive effect on a child’s life.

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