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Cranio/Maxillofacial anomalies are usually the result of genetic mutations or folic acid deficiency in the mother during pregnancy. Though there is no direct correlation between these types of abnormalities and drugs or environmental components, factors such as these may contribute to the conditions. Some facial deformities may interfere with eating, speech and language, and cause hearing loss and dental problems. Also, an abnormal facial appearance can result in social and psychological problems if not corrected.
Some of the more common cranio/maxillofacial abnormalities include:
- Cleft lip
- Cleft palate
- Craniosynostosis - a condition where the soft spot on an infant's skull closes too early interfering with normal skull growth and brain function
- Hemifacial microsomia - a condition where one side of the face is underdeveloped affecting the mouth, ears and jaw
- Vascular malformations - birthmarks present at birth that may cause functional problems
- Hemangiomas - birthmarks that may not present until the first few months of life
- Deformational plagiocephaly - a misshapen head
Cranio/maxillofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeons specialize in soft tissue and skeletal structure of the skull and face. These surgeons and researchers are continuing to improve the surgical techniques necessary to correct these problems.
Each cranio/maxillofacial anomaly follows a different treatment plan. Some conditions require surgeries that are more extensive than others and, wherever possible, surgeons will take a minimally invasive approach.