Craniofacial Malformation

A craniofacial malformation is an abnormally shaped head or facial bone. Some develop before birth. Others appear when you’re a baby or a child. They’re often obvious, and some are severe enough that you may want to fix them with craniofacial surgery.



Different craniofacial malformations have different symptoms. The most common craniofacial malformations are:
  • Cleft lip or cleft palate forms in vitro when tissue in the mouth or on the face fails to connect properly.
  • Craniosynostosis occurs when the skull’s bony plates (called “sutures”) close too early during infancy. It can affect your brain and skull growth. 
  • Crouzon syndrome happens when your skull and facial bones are fused. It’s also called craniofacial dysostosis.
  • Deformational plagiocephaly is the medical term for an asymmetrical or misshapen head. It’s also called positional plagiocephaly.
  • Encephaloceles happen when brain membranes poke through openings in your skull and make a groove between your forehead and nose or along the back of your skull. 
  • Hemifacial microsomia occurs when the tissues on one or both sides of your face are underdeveloped. It usually affects your ear, mouth and jaw.
  • Hemangioma is a benign skin tumor that creates a red birthmark – also called a port wine stain, a strawberry mark or a salmon patch.
  • Pierre Robin sequence is a U-shaped cleft in your soft palate that causes your tongue to fall to the back of your throat and makes it difficult to eat.
  • Torticollis is when your head tilts to the side, often because of an underlying bone or muscle problem. 
  • Treacher Collins syndrome usually creates underdeveloped cheekbones or jawbones, drooping eyes or malformed ears.
  • Vascular malformation is a birthmark or blood vessel growth that can affect the way your body functions. It’s also called lymphangioma, arteriovenous malformation and vascular gigantism.


Your doctor will start by examining you or your child and talking with you about symptoms and concerns. He or she may order diagnostic tests, such as:
  • A CT scan
  • An MRI scan
  • X-rays

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Treatment Options

We’ll work with you on a personalized a treatment plan that fits your needs. The neurosurgeons and pediatric plastic surgeons at Aurora Health Care are experts in treating craniofacial malformations. 

Your options might include:
  • Surgery to correct the problem
  • Hearing aids
  • Helmet to shape your head or your child's head
  • Occupational and speech therapy to help you or your child improve daily activities like chewing, swallowing and speaking
  • Orthodontic and dental treatments to improve jaw and mouth issues

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