Pediatric plastic surgery 101



What is pediatric plastic surgery?

Pediatric plastic surgery is a surgical subspecialty that focuses on the reconstructive and aesthetic improvement of a child’s appearance, with the goal of restoring functionality and improving quality of life for those who are born with anomalies (congenital) or acquire them from an illness or traumatic event. 

Types of pediatric plastic surgery

Reconstructive surgery is utilized to correct an anatomical difference in order to optimize functionality. Aesthetic surgery is performed for restoration of the form and appearance. A combination of these two types of surgery is used to treat the pediatric population. 

There are many different areas within the subspecialty, including:

  • Craniofacial and cleft surgery: for patients born with facial differences, craniosynostosis (premature fusion of skull sutures leading to a misshaped head), facial fractures
  • Pediatric hand surgery: for treatment of congenital hand/wrist and upper-extremity anomalies, as well as those that result from infection, trauma and tumors
  • Microvascular surgery: surgical repair of blood vessels and nerves under the microscope to restore and treat soft tissue problems or bony defects, including finger/hand amputation with replantation, brachial plexus repair or free tissue transfer for wound coverage and facial paralysis
  • General pediatric plastic surgery: for treatment of moles, cysts, tumors, burns, traumatic injuries, complex wounds and vascular anomalies
  • Aesthetic plastic surgery: to address imperfections using a variety of procedures such as body contouring, rhinoplasty, otoplasty (prominent ears) and breast reduction.

Why is it important for a child to see a pediatric plastic surgeon?

Children are anatomically and functionally different from adults; therefore, it is important for them to be seen by specialized pediatric plastic surgeons when facing a congenital or acquired anomaly. 

Additionally, a multidisciplinary approach to certain medical conditions is extremely important and are utilized in the following clinics:

  • Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic: treatment and surgical correction of cleft lip and palate anomalies, as well as all medical conditions directly related to it, including speech, feeding, orthodontics, genetics, ENT and neuropsychological issues
  • Craniofacial Program: treatment and surgical correction of syndromic and non-syndromic craniofacial abnormalities; the team includes plastic surgery, neurosurgery, genetics and neuropsychology
  • Peripheral Nerve Clinic: treatment of neonatal and traumatic brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries with the input of physical therapy and hand surgery
  • Vascular Anomalies Clinic: treatment and management of vascular anomalies, which includes vascular malformations and tumors with multiple teams involved, such as dermatology, interventional radiology, hematology/oncology, ENT and plastic surgery.

What research is being conducted by the plastic surgery team at Texas Children’s? 

Our surgeons and advanced practice providers are involved in a variety of research projects, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Participation in nationwide, multi-center outcome studies for cleft and craniofacial patients such as CLEFT-Q
  • Hospital-leading programs such as Hand Fracture Algorithm and Cleft Care package projects for patient education, as well as quality of life projects
  • Using state-of-the-art technology to computationally visualize and plan complex skull reconstruction

The plastic surgery team at Texas Children’s includes highly-skilled plastic surgeons, advance practice providers (NPs/PAs) and nurses who are dedicated to helping children function at the highest level by treating both common and complex surgical issues. We offer all of the above services throughout our various clinics. 

To learn more about Plastic Surgery at Texas Children's, visit http://www.texaschildrens.org/departments/plastic-surgery.