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Pediatric Plastic Surgery

Cleft Lip and Palate Repair

Cleft lip (cheiloschisis) and cleft palate (palatoschisis) are among the most common birth defects affecting children in North America.

The incomplete formation of the upper lip (cleft lip) or roof of the mouth (cleft palate) can occur individually, or both defects may occur together. The conditions can vary in severity and may involve one or both sides of the face.


A cleft, or separation of the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth, occurs very early in the development of your unborn child. During fetal development, certain components of the upper lip and roof of the mouth fail to form normally. Cleft lip and cleft palate repair is a type of plastic surgery to correct this abnormal development both to restore function and to restore a more normal appearance.

Most clefts can be repaired through specialized plastic surgery techniques, improving your child’s ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe, and to restore a more normal appearance and function.

A team of specialists can help

Early intervention by a team of specialists to evaluate your child is essential in cleft lip and/or cleft palate repair. The team can work together to define a course of treatment, including surgical repair of the cleft, speech rehabilitation and dental restoration. These specialists may include a:

  • Plastic surgeon
  • Pediatrician
  • Pediatric dentist
  • Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist)
  • Auditory or hearing specialist
  • Speech pathologist
  • Genetic counselor
  • Social worker

Congenital Defects

A deforming birth defect has a devastating psychological impact upon the child's parents, and it has the potential for lifelong impact upon the physical, psychological and socioeconomic well being of the child. Plastic surgery can improve or correct many of these birth defects. Because timing of surgery is often an important factor in improving the prospect for a successful outcome, early consultation should be sought with a plastic surgeon.

The primary care physician and the plastic surgeon work closely together in designing the most effective treatment plan for the affected child. Commonly, they work in the context of a multidisciplinary team. The family physician and pediatrician may work together with the surgeon to help the parents deal rationally with treatment options. The physicians also may counsel the parents regarding the emotional, psychological and financial resources that may be strained by treatment that sometimes requires many months or years to complete.


Congenital Hand Anomalies

A congenital condition is one that a child is born with. Congenital hand deformities occur in several different ways and have different causes. Some deformities can be inherited and others are caused by developmental abnormalities while the baby is still in the womb. The congenital hand deformities treated at SIU Institute for Plastic Surgery include extra fingers, webbed fingers, missing fingers, abnormal thumbs, trigger thumb

Congenital hand deformities are easily spotted at birth. Depending on the type and severity of the deformity the child may undergo additional testing to determine if the hand deformity is part of an underlying medical issue.
The goal of treatment at the Institute for Plastic Surgery is to maximize function and help children lead as normal a life as possible. Treatment will depend on the type of hand deformity and the severity of the condition. Treatments available include:

  • Separation and reconstruction of attached digits.
  • Removal of extra fingers.
  • Surgery to optimize a limb for a prosthetic
  • Custom prosthetic devices
  • Physical and occupational therapy


Ear Pinning Surgery

Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, can improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear.

Otoplasty can correct a defect in the ear structure that is present at birth that becomes apparent with development or it can treat misshapen ears caused by injury. 

Ear surgery creates a natural shape, while bringing balance and proportion to the ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound benefits to appearance and self-esteem.

If protruding or disfigured ears bother you or your child, you may consider plastic surgery.

Specifically ear surgery can treat:

  • Overly large ears — a rare condition called macrotia
  • Protruding ears occurring on one or both sides in varying degrees — not associated with hearing loss
  • Adult dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery


Head and Neck Anomalies Clinic

CHANAC - Congenital Head and Neck Anomalies Clinic. Children born with cleft lips or palates or other craniofacial conditions often face multiple, complex health problems. These other conditions treated are hypernasal speech, ear deformities, jaw deformities, hemifacial microsomia, obstructive sleep apnea, branchial cleft cysts, hemangiomas, eyelid ptosis, cystic hygromas, and congenital nevi.

Experience has shown that these complex issues are best managed by a team of health care specialists who work together and with the family to ensure a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan. The staff evaluates the medical, dental, speech, hearing, and emotional condition of each child.

Since a child’s growth is a significant factor in the ultimate outcome of treatment, the team must assess the child thoroughly and regularly until young adulthood.

Team Members Include:

  • a plastic surgeon (who reconstructs soft tissue)
  • a pediatric otolaryngologist (an “ear, nose and throat” doctor for ears and hearing)
  • an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (who works with teeth and dental occlusions)
  • an orthodontist (who straightens the teeth and aligns the jaw)
  • a nurse (who provides ongoing supervision of the child’s health)
  • And a case worker from the Illinois Division for Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) (who attends every clinic to act as the child’s advocate and helps coordinate care)
  • Complete reports are sent to the child’s local physician as well as to other specialists involved. The clinic works closely with the state’s Division for Specialized Care for Children to provide financial assistance when there is a need.


One of out every 700 babies born in the United States this year will have a cleft lip and/or palate. These deformities create problems in the appearance and function of the lip, palate, nose and teeth. Difficulties in speech and hearing are usually present. Self-esteem may suffer. Thanks to ongoing research and the great strides made in care and treatment, children born with these birth defects can live normal, healthy lives. However, it is extremely important that a team of specialists manages their care working together on a regular basis.