American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Congenital Anomalies

Surgical Correction of Birth Anomalies

A congenital anomaly is a medical condition present at birth that significantly deviates from the common structure or function of the body.

What is a congenital anomaly?

A congenital anomaly is a medically diagnosed condition present at or from birth that significantly deviates from the common structure or function of the body, whether caused by a hereditary or developmental disability or disease. These are not "rare" diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies congenital anomalies or birth defects as "common, costly and critical" – one in 33 babies in the United States is born with a congenital anomaly.

Common congenital anomalies

Cleft lip and palate abnormalities are congenital anomalies commonly treated by plastic surgeons, who repair the incomplete formation of the patient's upper lip or roof of the mouth. These conditions often impede the patient's regular function, specifically in the nose and mouth area, which can negatively affect an individual's ability to speak, eat, hear and even breathe properly. If left untreated, these conditions could undermine a patient's development and ability to function. In most cases, surgery is required to repair the anomaly.

Plastic surgeons restore function and appearance for a host of other congenital anomalies, including the following. If your child has a congenital condition that could benefit from reconstructive surgery, find and speak with a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructive surgery:

  • Acrosyndactyly
  • Amelia
  • Anophthalmia
  • Brachydactyly
  • Central ray deficiency / Cleft hand
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Congenital blepharophimosis
  • Congenital nasal pyriform aperture stenosis
  • Congenital proximal radioulnar synostosis
  • Congenital breast reconstruction
  • Constriction ring syndrome
  • Craniofacial microsomia
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Cryptotia
  • Duplicated thumbs
  • Ear deformations or malformations
  • Facial clefts
  • Hypospadias
  • Macrostomia
  • Maxillofacial dysplasia
  • Microphthalmia
  • Microtia
  • Möbius syndrome
  • Oligodactyly
  • Orbital dysplasia
  • Phocomelia
  • Poland syndrome
  • Polysyndactyly
  • Radial longitudinal deficiency / Radial club hand
  • Symphalangism
  • Syndactyly
  • Synostosis (same as craniosynostosis)
  • Tuberous breast deformity
  • Ulnar longitudinal deficiency

This list offers only a few of the many diagnoses. Every day, plastic surgeons provide life-saving treatments to individuals with congenital anomalies. They often work with a team of specialists that includes oral surgeons, orthodontists, pediatric dentists and speech therapists to assess and manage a patient's overall treatment and care. Sometimes reconstructive surgery and supportive treatment is done in stages over several years as a child grows.

In 2017, ASPS members reportedly performed 24,428 reconstructive procedures to treat congenital anomalies. The majority of those procedures were performed to repair cleft lip and palate.

Plastic Surgery Procedure
2017 v. 2016
Birth defect (congenital anomalies)
Cleft lip and palate
Craniofacial reconstruction
Hand defects

Source: 2017 National Plastic Surgery Statistics
*ASPS Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Data Only


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