A condition called “Hemifacial Microsomia” (HFM) is one in which part of the face did not develop normally. Development of the ear and the jaw are compromised but can be surgically improved. After clefts this syndrome runs in second for surgical aid for the patient.
There are no studies that link HFM to the actions or activities of mother’s during pregnancy. Why it happens still baffles researchers. It could be a lack of blood supply to the fetus’s brachial arches in the first eight weeks of pregnancy. Adults wanting more children can expect a mere 1% chance of transferring Hemifacial problems to other children.
The winning idea behind surgery for children is the fact that the bone and soft tissue can be corrected. The age for these surgeries depends upon the surgeon and the general condition of the child. Common surgeries include:
Lowering the upper jaw to match the opposite side and lengthening the lower jaw. Sometimes a bone graft is used to lengthen the jaw and sometimes a distraction device is used. Ear reconstruction at about 5-6 years of age, involves 3 to 4 surgeries. Occasionally, it may be necessary to add bone to build up the cheekbone. Some children benefit from the addition of soft tissues to further balance the face.
Your child may have skin tags in front of the ear or on different parts of the face. Hearing problems depend on the structures that are involved. Some children have some weakness in movement on the affected side of the face.
At the Facial Paralysis Institute in Beverly Hills, globally recognized facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Babak Azizzadeh strives to provide cutting-edge care to those who suffer from HFM. He aims to teach patients about HFM and help them evaluate various treatment options.
What is Hemifacial Microsomia?
Hemifacial Microsomia may occur on one or both sides of the face. It is present at birth and affects the lower half of the face, including the ears and mouth. These features do not develop properly to match the upper portion of the face and appear asymmetrical and uneven. Functional issues, such as breathing problems, may result from HFM deformities.
HFM can occur as a form of craniofacial microsomia, which refers to abnormalities that can affect the development of a patient’s skull (cranium) and face. Patients coping with craniofacial microsomia tend to have ear abnormalities that impact one or both of the ears. They are also susceptible to abnormalities that can affect the eyes, spine, kidneys, and heart.
Along with craniofacial microsomia, HFM has been linked to Goldenhar syndrome, a rare congenital condition that can affect the facial structure. Patients dealing with Goldenhar syndrome are prone to HFM, spine and rib cage abnormalities, and congenital scoliosis.
Hemifacial Microsomia Symptoms
HFM symptoms include:
- Underdevelopment of the lower and upper jaws
- Difficulty chewing
- Flat forehead and/or cheek
- Facial asymmetry
- Underdeveloped or missing external ear
- Hearing loss
- Loss of sensation in the face
HFM symptoms can range in terms of severity. At the first sign of HFM symptoms, a patient should pursue medical treatment. That way, the patient can explore HFM treatment options and discover the best way to alleviate their symptoms.
Causes of Hemifacial Microsomia?
Hemifacial microsomia develops in the fetal stage of pregnancy, usually between 4 and 8 weeks of gestation. However, Hemifacial Microsomia has no definitive causes. Vascular blockages or lack of blood supply to the face may contribute to the abnormal development of the lower region of the face. Furthermore, medical cases have been reported in which HFM occurs multiple times in a family, but researchers have not identified genes linked in the condition.
Hemifacial Microsomia Treatment
Dr. Azizzadeh assesses the best treatment plans for each individual patient. In cases of Hemifacial Microsomia, surgical procedures treat the jaw and ear areas. When children have surgery, the bone and soft tissue can be corrected to restructure the face in a more symmetrical way. Lengthening the jaw with a bone graft and ear reconstruction are a couple of common treatment options.
A Closer Look at Hemifacial Microsomia Surgery
Hemifacial microsomia surgery is tailored to a patient and can involve one or more of the following procedures:
- Lower jaw reconstruction
- Reconstruction of the external ear
- Repair of a cleft lip and/or palate
- Plastic surgery in the cheek’s soft tissue
- Bone distraction (placement of a device used to lengthen the jaw)
Dr. Azizzadeh evaluates a patient to determine which HFM surgery option can be both safe and effective. He also crafts a custom HFM surgery plan designed to help a patient achieve long-lasting treatment results.
In addition, Dr. Azizzadeh requests follow-up appointments in the weeks and months following HFM surgery. These appointments allow Dr. Azizzadeh to track his patient’s progress as he or she recovers from treatment. They enable patients to share any post-surgery concerns and questions with Dr. Azizzadeh as well.
Why Do Patients Choose Dr. Azizzadeh for Hemifacial Microsomia Treatment?
Dr. Azizzadeh understands the challenges associated with treating HFM. As such, he conducts an in-depth assessment of a patient and their HFM symptoms. If Dr. Azizzadeh believes a patient can benefit from HFM surgery, he does everything possible to ensure the patient can undergo a successful treatment.
Meet with Dr. Azizzadeh to Explore Hemifacial Microsomia Treatment Options
Dr. Azizzadeh offers in-person and virtual consultations to patients who are exploring HFM treatment options. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at (310) 657-2203.
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