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Cleft Lip & Palate - Corrective Jaw Surgery

Corrective Jaw Surgery


Corrective jaw surgery in children with facial clefts is an advanced subspecialty of jaw surgery that should be performed by experienced cleft surgeons intimately involved with a craniofacial center. All members of our team are experienced cleft surgeons and comprise the entire jaw surgery section of the New Jersey Institute for Craniofacial Surgery.


Children born with clefts of the lip and palate undergo multiple surgical procedures to restore normal appearance and function. With each procedure, scar tissue is produced as the areas heal. This scar tissue is a natural part of healing; however, it can become restrictive to future growth of structures in the area. As a result, children born with a cleft lip and palate often have a deficiency in growth of the upper jaw. This deficiency may result in a disturbance in function and aesthetics requiring corrective jaw surgery.


If the deficiency of the upper jaw is mild, it may be corrected with conventional jaw surgery. However, if the deficiency is more significant, the scar tissue will prevent the ability to reposition the upper jaw with conventional surgery.


In these cases of significant deficiency, a special procedure called distraction osteogenesis is required to move the upper jaw forward.


Distraction osteogenesis involves a procedure to mobilize the upper jaw along with the placement of a special device. This device allows the upper jaw to be moved forward gradually over one to two weeks after surgery. This gradual movement permits the scar tissue to stretch and accommodate for movements that are not possible at the time of surgery.


Our center stands at the forefront of the rapidly developing science and technology of maxillary distraction. We hold two U.S. patents for the distraction device we have created and used for the past 10 years. This device is custom fabricated for each patient to match their unique anatomy. This makes our device much less obtrusive than most others and much better tolerated. Our device also allows more sophisticated movements of the upper jaw and is worn for a shorter period of time.


In addition to our distraction device, we have developed new treatment protocols requiring the device to be worn for a significantly shorter time than the traditional 3 months. For more information about distraction osteogenesis of the upper jaw in clefted children, please visit the  Distraction Osteogenesis Section of our webiste.

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