When a child is has a deformity, either from birth or as a result of an accident or other medical condition, parents worry about the quality of life their child will have. Concerns about their future are to be expected, as is the desire for comprehensive treatment to remedy the condition. Pediatric plastic surgery offers a chance to correct anomalies and allow the child to have a normal life. Dr. Susan Downey completed a fellowship in Pediatric Plastic Surgery in 1989 at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and was on the full time faculty for ten years.
Ear Pinning Surgery
When an individual has especially large or protruding ears, self-esteem can suffer. Ear pinning (or otoplasty) is a surgical procedure that can change the shape of a person's ears. The procedure is most commonly performed between the ages of 5 and 14, but it can be performed on adults as well. Ear pinning is a highly effective procedure that can improve both appearance and self-confidence. It is fast, safe, and extremely effective. An incision is made behind the ear, and the cartilage is then shaped and left to heal. Ear pinning takes one to two hours to complete, and most normal activities can be resumed within several weeks.
Surgery of Congenital Defects
Congenital deformities of the hand - that is, deformities a child is born with - can interfere with proper hand growth and cause significant problems in the use of the hand. Fortunately, with modern surgical techniques, most defects can be corrected at a very early age - in some cases during infancy, in others, at two or three years - allowing normal development and functioning of the hand.
Scar revision is performed to reduce the appearance of scars caused by injury or previous surgery. Scars are by definition permanent, but surgery can narrow, fade and otherwise reduce the appearance of severe or unattractive scarring, which is especially helpful in areas of cosmetic importance such as the face and hands.
There are many surgical methods of scar revision, only some of which may be appropriate for a particular type of scar or its location. These include surgical excision, skin grafts, flap surgery and Z-plasty (repositioning a scar so that it aligns with the face and is less noticeable). The effectiveness of scar reduction depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the injury, your body's healing mechanism, the size and depth of the wound, how much blood supplies the area and the thickness and color of your skin.
Cleft Lip & Palate
Surgery to repair cleft lip and/or cleft palate in infants can correct nursing, feeding and speech problems, frequent ear infections and physical disfigurement with dramatic aesthetic and functional results. The cleft lip procedure is usually performed at 6-12 weeks of age, while cleft palate surgery is performed between the ages of nine months and one year (after the palate has grown but before faulty speech habits are acquired). While the infant sleeps under general anesthesia, the cleft is closed with absorbable stitches. The skin is then sewn over the correction with fine sutures to minimize scarring. Speech therapy may be required for children with residual muscle problems resulting from cleft palate.
Dr. Downey discussing the Cleft Lip & Palate techniques taught to Ecuadorian residents.