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Head and face reconstruction

Contents of this page:


Cleft lip repair - series
Cleft lip repair - series
Craniofacial reconstruction - series
Craniofacial reconstruction - series

Alternative Names    Return to top

Craniofacial reconstruction; Orbital-craniofacial surgery

Definition    Return to top

Surgical treatment to repair deformities of the head and face (craniofacial).

Description    Return to top

Surgery for head and face deformities (craniofacial reconstruction) depends on the type and severity of deformity, and the condition of the patient.

In some cases, because surgical repairs involve the skull (cranium), brain, nerves, eyes, facial bones, and facial skin, a plastic surgeon (for skin and face) and a neurosurgeon (brain and nerves) work together. Head and neck surgeons may also perform craniofacial reconstruction operations.

The surgery is done while the patient is deep asleep and pain-free (under general anesthesia), and may take from 4 to over 12 hours to complete. Some of the facial bones are cut and repositioned into a more normal facial structure.

Pieces of bone (bone grafts) may be taken from the pelvis, ribs, or skull to fill in the spaces where bones of the face and head have been moved. Small metal screws and plates may be used to hold the bones in place. The jaws may be wired together to hold the new bone positions in place.

If the surgery is expected to cause much swelling of the face, mouth, or neck, the airway can become blocked. If this is anticipated, the patient may have what is called a tracheotomy placed, in which a small hole is made in the neck through which a tube (endotracheal tube) is placed in the airway (trachea).

This allows the patient to breath despite severe swelling of the face and upper airway that occurs after some operations and may persist for weeks.

Why the Procedure is Performed    Return to top

Craniofacial reconstruction may be done if there are:

Risks    Return to top

Risks for any anesthesia are:

Risks for any surgery are:

Additional risks of surgery of the head and face are:

After the Procedure    Return to top

Although not without risk, these surgeries usually result in a much more normal appearance.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

Depending on the extent of surgery and need for close monitoring of the airway, the first 2 days after surgery may be spent in the intensive care unit. Without complications, most patients are able to leave the hospital within 1 week. Complete healing may take up to 6 weeks.

Update Date: 7/25/2007

Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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