Craniofacial Abnormalities

Craniofacial abnormalities are among the world’s most common birth defects. In fact, more than 130,000 children worldwide will be born this year with clefts of the lip and palate alone.

Craniofacial abnormalities are deformities in the growth of the head and facial bones.  These anomalies are present at birth, can range from mild to severe, and may require an operation to correct.

The Craniofacial Anomalies Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States, and the largest in Michigan. Each year our dedicated pediatric specialists treat more than 500 new patients.

We treat the full scope of craniofacial abnormalities, including:

  • Cleft lip and cleft palate – Conditions caused when the tissues of the lip and/or palate of the fetus do not fuse very early in pregnancy
  • Positional head deformities (positional plagiocephaly) - A change in head shape caused by external pressure on the skull
  • Craniosynostosis, including Apert, Cruzon, Muenke, Saethre-Chotzen, and other syndromes – Conditions in which one or more of the fibrous sutures in an infant skull prematurely fuses, restricting skull and brain growth
  • Hemifacial microsomia - A condition with underdevelopment of the ears and jaws
  • Treacher Collins syndrome - A rare, inherited, congenital craniofacial condition that affects the bones, jaws, skin and muscles of the face
  • Vascular Anomalies 

Our specialists offer a full spectrum of treatments and therapies to reshape the skull, allow for proper brain growth and/or restore a more typical cosmetic appearance. Minimally invasive therapies are also available for certain conditions. We utilize the latest techniques to decrease the number of procedures your child must undergo.

Our craniofacial anomalies team

Every member of our team has specialized training in the care of children with congenital craniofacial abnormalities.

Our multidisciplinary program combines the efforts of plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, dentists and orthodontists, genetic counselors, speech pathologists, psychologists and social workers to evaluate, diagnose and comprehensively treat your child’s unique physical and emotional needs, keeping the needs of the family in mind as well. This allows us to meet all your child’s needs related to his or her condition, including feeding, growth, hearing, breathing, vision and dental.

At Michigan Medicine, your child will benefit from a truly collaborative treatment team, offering seamlessly coordinated care from a full spectrum of specialists, all part of the University of Michigan Health System.  Our team members communicate closely every stem of the way, from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up care.

Research to improve care for craniofacial abnormalities

While pediatric plastic surgery has made huge strides in developing treatments and procedures to successfully correct a number of these conditions, there is still an urgent need to identify strategies to repair many of the most debilitating defects.

Every day, our researchers strive to find new procedures and discover new information to improve outcomes for kids with craniofacial abnormalities. We are currently leading a number of studies to advance the treatment of craniofacial deformities, including:

  • Creating new bones – developing revolutionary strategies to stimulate growth in the child’s own bones, eliminating the need for bone grafts (using bone from other parts of the body resources that can be depleted with multiple surgeries)
  • Improving craniofacial surgery outcomes – conducting outcomes research on corrective therapies for cleft lips and palates to identify opportunities to advance surgical techniques that will ensure optimal end results for patients, improve overall patient care, and uncover new prevention strategies, plus identify which children are more likely to fail initial therapy
  • Conducting quality of life studies – monitoring patients’ progress to understand not just the clinical outcomes of their care, but also how treatment affects their quality of life. From functional abilities to behavioral and social development, our research seeks to continuously improve standards of care, allowing for maximum quality of life for these children both during and after treatment.

Why choose us?

The most important thing when choosing a hospital to provide care for your child is to select a medical center with expertise caring for your child’s specific diagnosis.  It is important to also consider that many children with craniofacial conditions require follow-up care and therapy as well.

Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is one of the most experienced craniofacial anomalies program in the United States, and the largest in Michigan.

As an academic medical center, our specialists are leaders in teaching the next generation of craniofacial specialists, as well as in research to advance the field of plastic surgery.  Our leadership in this area gives us a uniquely thorough understanding of the distinctive aspects of these conditions and their underlying causes, and makes us particularly well-qualified to treat not just the symptoms of craniofacial abnormalities, but the entire condition.

We look forward to the opportunity to meeting your family and working with you to provide world-class care for your child.

Take the next step

Schedule an appointment by calling us at 734-998-6022.