Pediatric plastic surgery is plastic surgery performed on children. Its procedures are most often conducted for reconstructive or cosmetic purposes. In children, this line is often blurred, as many congenital deformities impair physical function as well as aesthetics.

This is a logical prefix, as parts of the body are remade or reformed during most reconstructive and cosmetic surgical procedures. Children make up roughly 3% of all plastic surgery procedures, and the majority of these procedures correct a congenital deformity.

Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed on abnormal structures of the body that are the result of congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors or disease. While reconstructive surgery is most often undertaken to regain normal motor function or prevent current or future health problems, aesthetics is also considered by the surgical team.

Reconstructive plastic surgery

Several of the most common congenital birth defects can be treated by a plastic surgeon operating as an individual, or as a part of a multi-disciplinary team. The most common pediatric birth defects requiring plastic surgeon involvement include:

  • Cleft lip and/or palate – Babies born with the defect will have opening in the vicinity of the upper lip. The size of the opening reaches anywhere from a small notch to near towards the base of the nostril, in which it would either involve one or both sides of the lip.
  • Syndactyly / Polydactyly – It affects 1 in every 2,000 – 3,000 live births. Polydactyly is the presence of extra fingers or toes at birth, and is believed to affect somewhere around 2 out of every 1,000 live births. However, it is believed that many cases are so minor that they are taken care of shortly after birth and not reported, so actual statistics may be higher.
  • Positional Plagiocephaly – Plagiocephaly is simply the flattening of one area of the skull, generally one babies tend to favor as they lie. While treatment is often as simply as repositioning the baby during sleep, in more pronounced cases helmet therapy may be put to use. In most cases, plagiocephaly is quite minor and easily resolved, with many more pediatric plastic surgeons becoming familiar with helmet therapy for more advanced cases.
  • Craniosynostosis – Craniosynostosis is a congenital abnormality originating from the central nervous system in which one or more of the fibrous joints in the skull close prematurely. This fusion often requires surgical intervention to reconstruct the skull either to bring it back to its normal position or to give it a more natural shape.