Craniofacial disorders are abnormalities of the face or head, caused by a birth defect, disease or trauma. Directed by plastic surgeons, Mayo Clinic's Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic on the Rochester, Minnesota, campus uses a multidisciplinary team approach in the treatment of all types of craniofacial disorders, including cleft lip and palate.

Over a two-day period, the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic team conducts a complete evaluation of your child's condition. The team members meet to discuss their findings and develop a treatment plan, tailored to your child's needs. For example, treatment may involve surgery or referral to a local specialist, such as a pediatric dentist.

A team approach focused on your needs

Mayo's comprehensive team includes experts from a variety of specialties, depending on your child's needs. Directed by plastic surgeons, other team members may include specialists in jaw and face (maxillofacial) and oral surgery, orthodontics, prosthetics (such as artificial ears, eyes, noses), vision, hearing, speech, neurosurgery, psychology, genetics, and social services.

Having all this expertise in a single place — focused on your child and you — means that you're not just getting one opinion. Your care is discussed among the extended team, your test results are available quickly and appointments are scheduled in coordination. Specialists work together for you.

Led by plastic surgeons, the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic provides integrated case management to assure quality, continuity of care and long-term follow-up. An administrative coordinator serves as the main contact for patients and families, scheduling appointment and meetings. Clinical coordinators provide education, direct patient care, and assist the patient and family in understanding and carrying out the treatment plan.

Depending on your child's needs, experts from the following areas may be part of your team.

  • Clinical genomics promotes a better understanding of congenital disorders and their impact on the family.
  • Medical social services assesses psychological and social history, provides counseling and support to help you and your child cope, and arranges for community resources as needed.
  • Neurosurgery informs and educates you and your child about the specific craniofacial disorder and provides appropriate planning and timing of surgical intervention.
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery analyzes growth and development of your child's face and mouth and provides appropriately timed surgical intervention.
  • Orthodontics provides treatment for problems with the teeth and face, taking into account both function and appearance.
  • Ophthalmology evaluates vision and function of your child's eyes and recommends treatment or assistive devices as appropriate.
  • Otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat, or ENT) assesses how to restore and preserve hearing and recommends appropriate hearing devices.
  • Plastic surgery educates you and your child about the specific craniofacial disorder, provides appropriate planning and timing of surgical intervention, and restores function and features as needed.
  • Prosthodontics creates artificial (prosthetic) ears, eyes and noses, along with prostheses to replace missing teeth or tissue defects in your child's mouth.
  • Psychology assesses learning and behavior problems and provides parents and teachers with suggestions for intervention or treatment.
  • Speech pathology identifies delays or disorders of speech or language, conducts exams to identify problems in producing sound, recommends surgical intervention related to functions of the soft palate and throat, and makes recommendations for home management.

Other coordinated care

The Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic coordinates care as needed with these areas:

  • Pain management experts. If needed, with a caring and compassionate focus, Mayo Clinic offers a multispecialty team approach to prevent and relieve your child's pain.
  • Nurturing, child-centered care. Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital is a family-friendly environment, offering family support space, playrooms, a children's library, tutoring, special events and other amenities.

Advanced, specialized expertise

With expertise and extensive experience in cleft and craniofacial disorders, including the most complicated cases, Mayo Clinic specialists can provide a customized treatment plan for your child.

Our facial reconstruction surgeons have the training and skills to repair and reconstruct facial features that are absent or deformed due to:

  • Birth defects
  • Craniofacial deformities
  • Head and neck cancer resection
  • Maxillofacial surgery
  • Previous failed microvascular reconstructions
  • Radiation therapy to the head and neck
  • Trauma

On average, craniofacial surgeons at Mayo Clinic perform over 1,800 procedures each year. Minimally invasive surgical techniques are emphasized when appropriate, including advanced laparoscopic, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and robotic surgical approaches.