American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Plastic Surgery Specialty Organizations Band Together for Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month

New statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reveal nearly 220,000 maxillofacial and craniofacial procedures were performed in the United States during 2016. Patients undergo what is often a series of plastic and reconstructive surgeries every year to treat congenital deformities or acquired craniofacial anomalies due to trauma, burns, illnesses or accidents.

In an effort to raise awareness of cleft and craniofacial disorders, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons/The Plastic Surgery Foundation, the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS) and the American Society for Craniofacial Surgery (ASCFS) are joining forces in July to support National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month.

"Children with cleft and craniofacial anomalies are often overlooked because of all of the attention given to other fields of plastic surgery," said Arun Gosain, MD, The PSF president-elect and head of the Craniofacial Developmental Biology Laboratory at Lurie Children's Research Center in Chicago. "In addition, these patients are often from indigent backgrounds. Unless we make people aware of their circumstance and improve resources for their care, then this patient population's care is compromised."

Maxillofacial procedures – which include facial fracture repairs, laceration repairs, post-traumatic reconstruction and orthognathic surgery – accounted for 202,688 of the total surgeries. ASPS data also reveals that cleft lip and palate repair comprised 11,905 surgeries and craniofacial reconstruction accounted for 4,585 operations last year.

Raising Awareness Together

Stephen Baker, MD, president of the ASCFS, says people often have misconceptions about this patient population due to their physical appearance.

"Children born with craniofacial anomalies may have noticeable physical differences but the vast majority of these children are intellectually normal," Dr. Baker said. "Craniofacial surgeons are devoted to restoring not only the physical form but the emotional and psychological aspect of the person as well."

Dr. Gosain, who specializes in cleft lip and palate repair and craniofacial care, says children suffering from birth anomalies have needs beyond plastic surgery and the one area most often lacking is orthodontic care.

"For thousands of cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial patients, multidisciplinary care—surgeons, orthodontists, speech pathologists—is a critical component of treatment," said Dr. William Hoffman, MD, president of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons and chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at University of California San Francisco. "It is important that that we have support on the local, state and national level for this care."

Although craniofacial anomalies are infrequent, Dr. Baker wants the public to know that ASPS, ASMS and ASCFS have highly qualified, experienced and trained member surgeons who are devoted to caring for craniofacial patients. "Plastic surgeons initially treat these children as infants, and through continued care they establish a relationship that lasts through young adulthood," Dr. Baker said. "As a craniofacial surgeon, you are not just a technician; you are a doctor, a friend, and a source of continuous support. All members of the ASPS, ASMS and the ASCFS are committed to this goal."

Donate to Caring for Kids

The Plastic Surgery Foundation's Caring for Kids awareness campaign is dedicated to increasing access to reconstructive surgery for children in need. Since 2014, The PSF has invested $700,000 toward this mission. Over the past five years, The PSF has also invested $602,273 to support 26 researchers/projects to advance craniofacial treatments.

All contributions to Caring for Kids supports the program's mission to transform a child's life through reconstructive surgery. The program's success depends on financial contributions. Visit The PSF to help a child in need.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 11,000 physician members worldwide, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 92 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

About ASMS

The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons is the oldest American organization representing maxillofacial surgeons who are devoted to improving and promoting the highest levels of patient care. Maxillofacial and Craniofacial surgeons specialize in bone and soft tissue reconstruction and enhancement of the face. Members are a collegial group of more than 500 surgeons who share a keen interest in surgery of the face and skull. While modest in size, its membership is fortunate to include many of the leaders in plastic surgery.


Craniofacial surgery is a sub-specialty of plastic surgery that began with a group of surgeons interested in the treatment of birth defects in children. In the late 1960's, Dr. Paul Tessier from Paris, France, reported on techniques he had developed to treat children with rare birth defects.

Today, new and refined craniofacial techniques are used not only to treat birth defects in children, but also to help neurosurgeons resect tumors that were previously believed to be unresectable, help reconstruct the face and skull following trauma, and even expand the scope of aesthetic surgery.


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