When it comes to plastic surgery, the general perception of undergoing a procedure involves an adult patient deciding to make a change to their appearance through a facelift, breast augmentation, or a Brazilian butt lift (BBL). Even though they are not normally thought of as plastic surgery patients, there are some children who require a treatment to address any number of issues that can only be resolved with a surgical procedure.
Surprised by this statement? If so, read on to learn the connection between children and plastic surgery and why it is sometimes necessary for a child to have a cosmetic surgery procedure.
It is not always known by the general public that pediatric plastic surgeons often play a vital role in the care and well-being of children and adolescents who are experiencing a wide range of medical conditions and issues.
For example, some of the minor conditions experienced by children that are often treated by pediatric plastic surgeons include deformities and malformations of the ears, anomalies to the shape of the head, and skin tags. In general, one of the most common reasons pediatric plastic surgeons see kids is related to concerns about the shape of their heads. Abnormal head shapes can develop in babies for a variety of reasons such as constant pressure in one area of the skull causing changes to the shape of the skull (since the bones in the skull of a baby are thin and flexible), the fusing of bones in the skull at too early of an age, and abnormalities in the development or position of the nose, teeth, and forehead.
Other common conditions include congenital anomalies of the hands or feet including having an extra toe or finger or multiple digits that are connected to each other. There are also some anomalies with the ears that might need to be addressed. Issues with the ears can range from mild to severe. The treatment performed by the plastic surgeon depends on the condition. If the child has prominent ears that stick out far from the head, they can be molded in infancy or treated by a surgical technique known as otoplasty at an older age. If the child is missing an ear/the ear is absent from birth, the pediatric plastic surgeon might need to take cartilage from elsewhere on the body of the patient to form an ear that will be placed where the ear should be located on the head.
Some of the more complex issues that a pediatric plastic surgeon might need to treat include problems with the jaw known as malocclusion (AKA a bad bite or a misalignment of the teeth that cause problems with biting and chewing). In order to treat a bad bite, the jaws of the patient can be surgically moved into a better position. Common reasons for problems with the jaw include developmental issues where the lower and upper jaws do not meet properly or they grow to a point where they are not in the correct place in the mouth, so the patient has problems chewing, pain in the joint of the jaw, and even sleep apnea. In addition, malocclusion can be the result of trauma or an injury to the jaw that can impact future growth or put the jaw in an incorrect position. A common medical syndrome issue is cleft lip and palates repair which is an abnormal growth to the jaw that requires surgery. If the lower jaw is underdeveloped, breathing issues can occur because of the relatively small jaw of the patient. Soft tissue might crowd the throat and narrow the airway, so the patient begins to experience obstructive sleep apnea that is treated by pulling the jaws forward in order to open the airway as well as move the soft tissue of the throat. The movement of the soft tissue of the throat can also often give the treated area an improved aesthetic appearance in addition to improving the ability to breathe easier on a daily basis.
The first step is finding a pediatric plastic surgeon who is ready to calm the fears of the child no matter the complexity of the medical issue or condition. Unlike adult patients, children often are not aware of everything that is involved with plastic surgery or even why they need to have a procedure. It is important for the parents of the patient to find a doctor who is ready to provide compassionate and personalized care for children of any age.
Once the doctor has been identified and an appointment has been made, the surgeon will examine the patient in order to determine the reason for the medical issue or condition and give the parents the information they need to know to make a decision about whether or not plastic surgery is the right choice for their child and the medical issue they are facing at the time.