Craniofacial differences are more than simple cosmetic differences in the nose, ears, and other features. They include a vast spectrum of disorders that can affect breathing, vision, feeding, speech, and of course, appearance. They can include anything from large birthmarks and tumors to nerve problems. Often, multiple specialists, such as a speech therapist, audiologist, psychologist, and geneticist, may be required to treat the problems that can arise.
Pediatric plastic surgeons traditionally have their roots in craniofacial surgery. The reason is that a large number of craniofacial issues are congenital in nature, meaning that people are born with them. Aside from trauma and tumors, most individuals with craniofacial problems have had them since childhood. The specialty not only deals with manipulation of soft tissues, but the underlying bone as well. The concept is similar to building the foundation of a house before putting up the roof.
Craniofacial deformities may be classified broadly as syndromic or non-syndromic. Syndromes with craniofacial findings consist of other deformities as well. For example, cleft palate may sometimes be associated with Down syndrome as well as Apert syndrome. Each of these syndromes have multiple additional malformations that combine to give the syndrome its name. It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of craniofacial anomalies are associated with a syndrome. This is different from non-syndromic or isolated craniofacial disorders. For example, cleft lip and palate are largely sporadic in nature, meaning that there is no known cause for their occurrence and no other set of physical findings that go along with them. Below are some of the conditions treated by Dr. Panossian.
- Cleft Lip & Palate
- Nasal Deformities
- Facial Paralysis
- Moebius Syndrome
- Hemifacial Microsomia
- Apert Syndrome
Because of the pediatric nature of craniofacial differences, it is important to have an appropriately trained specialist to oversee the care of these unique children. Dr. Panossian has trained at the most respected institutions in the world for craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery. His background allows him to incorporate techniques from other subspecialties, such as microsurgery and vascular anomalies, to treat children with complex craniofacial issues. Dr. Panossian has lectured extensively on craniofacial deformities and travels frequently with international organizations to perform craniofacial surgery abroad.