Pediatric Services


Craniofacial Abnormalities and Craniosynostosis

Thousands of infants are born each year in the United States with craniofacial abnormalities such as craniosynostosis (a congenital deformity of the skull), cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities. These abnormalities can have a significant impact on a child’s growth, development, function, and appearance. NewYork-Presbyterian’s Craniofacial Program, operating across NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital, offers multidisciplinary teams of specialists bringing innovative and comprehensive care to children with craniofacial abnormalities that address their unique needs throughout their lifetime. Our pediatric neurosurgeons collaborate with a wide range of specialists to treat the most complex craniofacial disorders in children of all ages. Our goal is to support patients and families with the highest level of treatment and a roadmap of care that will help them to reach their ultimate potential and to provide them the best quality of life possible.

About Our Program

At NewYork-Presbyterian, our Craniofacial Program provides advanced and comprehensive care for patients with craniofacial disorders.  We are distinguished by a multidisciplinary approach and excellent surgical success in the use of innovative approaches to improve cosmetic deformity, optimize functioning, and minimize the impact of these conditions on a child’s development and well-being.  Our spectrum of care extends from early prenatal life into adulthood, ranging from prenatal ultrasonography and advanced genetic testing and counseling, to surgical correction of craniofacial abnormalities in the first few years of life.

For many children, craniofacial disorders can impact their feeding capability, speech development, dentition, breathing patterns, intracranial pressure, and appearance.  To address a child’s unique needs, we form multidisciplinary teams of experts from pediatrics, neurology, neurosurgery, genetics, speech therapy, swallow therapy, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, oromaxillofacial surgery, prosthodontics, educational advocates, oculoplastic surgery, ENT, plastic surgery, child life, pediatric psychiatry and social work.

Quality and timing of care is everything when it comes to treating craniofacial disorders because children’s needs continuously evolve as they grow. Our goal is to offer the most advanced surgical methods at the appropriate time and augmented by supportive therapies to give children the best opportunity to reach and even exceed their own developmental expectations.

We recognize that pediatric patients with craniofacial disorders may need to receive continuous care by experienced and familiar physicians as they age beyond their childhood years. Our team provides continuity of care through the lifespan of your child.  Our multidisciplinary approach focuses on the whole child and offers them the best opportunity to enjoy the transition from child to adult.

What We Treat

At NewYork-Presbyterian, we provide advanced care for children with facial conditions and complex facial deformities related to three main areas: congenital (birth) defects, trauma, and tumors or abnormal growth. We have special expertise in the care of children with:

  • Cleft lip, in which the lip does not completely form during pregnancy
  • Cleft palate, in which the roof of the mouth does not completely close during pregnancy
  • Craniosynostosis, a deformity of the skull caused by premature fusion of the sutures that hold the bones of the skull together. 
  • Craniofacial abnormalities that result from genetic disorders such as Crouzon’s, Apert’s, Goldenhar, Treacher-Collins and Pierre-Robin syndromes
  • Facial trauma and facial scarring
  • Jaw (orthognathic) disorders
  • Hemangiomas and other vascular malformations
  • Velopharyngeal dysfunction/insufficiency (VPD/VPI), the inadequate separation of the oral and nasal cavities during speech and/or swallowing
  • Deformational (or Positional) plagiocephaly, or "flat head syndrome"
  • Hemifacial microsomia, underdeveloped tissue on one side of the face, affecting the ear, mouth, and jaw
  • Other currently unidentified syndromes with chromosome abnormalities of uncertain significance

Our Approach to Care

woman holding baby talking to doctor

At NewYork-Presbyterian, we take a fully integrated approach to the treatment of craniofacial disorders in children at every stage, from infancy through childhood and adolescence to the transition into adulthood.

Holistic and Comprehensive Care  

We recognize that every child with a craniofacial disorder has a unique set of symptoms, circumstances and needs.  Our pediatric neurosurgeons take a holistic approach to your child’s care that considers the entire patient, including his or her physical, emotional and social factors.  We strive to partner with patients and their parents in shared decision-making, empowering them with knowledge, support, and the most effective treatment options to address symptoms and improve quality of life.

Collaborative and Multidisciplinary Care for Children of all Ages

NewYork-Presbyterian offers the full range of therapies a newborn, young child, or adolescent with craniofacial disorders may require. Bringing together our pediatric surgical, medical, anesthesiology, and support specialists into one coordinated team helps us to provide the most effective care for your child. You can be assured that your family will be in the expert hands of a medical team renowned for excellence in pediatric neurology and neurosurgery and committed to a shared goal of providing your child with the safest, most advanced surgical techniques available.

For children with craniofacial disorders, different types specialists are required to provide the expert consultation and skillful care that your child will need. The timing of such care is also critical to achieving the best outcome. We put together a personalized, multidisciplinary team of experts with the training and expertise to meet your child's unique. Our teams include surgeons, pediatricians, dentists and other oral care specialists, nurses, audiologists, speech and language therapists, feeding therapists, occupational therapists, geneticists, and social workers. Child life specialists are also available to help ease the hospital experience.

Seamless, Coordinated Care

We understand it can be challenging to juggle appointments and manage all the different aspects of your child's care. To provide seamless, efficient care, our patient care coordinators manage all the specialty consultations and steps required to care for your child. Our coordinators help arrange any necessary appointments, explain treatments, and review the timeframe for your child's care. We also help coordinate the care provided by our team with your child's pediatrician.

Continuity of Care Through the Lifespan of the Child

There is a growing recognition that pediatric patients with chronic ailments need to receive continuous care by experienced and familiar surgeons as they age beyond their childhood years. At NewYork-Presbyterian, the pediatric neurosurgery team takes a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the whole child and offers them the best opportunity to enjoy a normal transition from childhood to adulthood.

Children who have a lifelong need for specialized care, such as those with craniofacial disorders, are embraced by our care teams. Our pediatric neurosurgeons understand the continuous needs of their patients regardless of age and are vested in making certain that the transition from childhood to adulthood is simplified by not needing to change care teams. Our teams work with children through their adolescence, teen years and early adulthood to help them understand their responsibility for their health and achieve their personal goals at every stage. 

When it is time, we help our patients seamlessly transition to one of our adult physicians in the NewYork-Presbyterian Neurology & Neurosurgery program.

Why Choose Us

Access to World-Class Specialists

Your child's healthcare team has access to all of the various pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists who practice at NewYork-Presbyterian, ensuring that all of your child's medical needs can be addressed. We collaborate closely with our specialists in prenatal pediatrics, vascular anomalies, pediatric dermatology, and otorhinolaryngology.

Cutting-Edge Surgery Approaches

Our pediatric neurosurgeons apply advanced surgical approaches that improve the outcomes of children born with craniofacial abnormalities:

  • Minimally invasive approaches to craniosynostosis, including cranial vault remodeling (traditional open surgery) and minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. For complex craniosynostosis, our pediatric neurosurgeons are leaders in the field of minimally invasive approaches for isolated or multi-suture craniosynostosis and the use of distraction osteogenesis
  • Virtual surgical planning to create tailored treatment plans for patients with craniofacial conditions, using three dimensional views of the child’s craniofacial skeleton and computational modeling to find the most patient-specific surgical plan that is most likely to be successful

Seamless Access to Resources and Support Services

At NewYork-Presbyterian, patients and families have seamless access our vast resources, including on-staff neuropsychologists who offer testing and treatments for children with emotional and cognitive issues.  We also have a Parent-to-Parent program that can connect you personally with a parent whose child has been treated for the condition your child has.

Pioneers in the Field

Our physicians conduct groundbreaking research to improve the outcomes of children with craniofacial disorders. Through their research activities, they have developed novel treatments for speech disorders, created new techniques to stimulate and promote cranial bone formation, and are assessing outcomes with three dimensional imaging software.

We Serve the World

Our team members have organized and participated in a number of nonprofit surgical missions to other countries, including Colombia, Guatemala, and China, to treat children with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other craniofacial problems. During a typical mission, our specialists provide care to families who might not otherwise be able to access these vital services for their children.

Amazing Patient Stories

This couldn't have gone any better. After having gone through something so unfortunate in Florida, I'm so happy to have it work out the way it did. They're miracle workers.

Read Lily's Story

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