What is Hemifacial Microsomia
Hemifacial Microsomia is a genetic disorder whereby one side of the face is underdeveloped. Roughly one in 5,000 individuals are affected by Hemifacial Microsomia. Of those with this condition, 15% will have underdevelopment on both sides of their face. Sometimes Hemifacial Microsomia can lead to Goldenhar Syndrome when the eyes are affected.
Hemifacial Microsomia is one of the most common facial birth defects, being second only to cleft palate.
Those with Hemifacial Microsomia have an asymmetrical face, and a malformed ear and underdeveloped jaw on the affected side of the face. Eating is often difficult due to an abnormal bite, and hearing loss due to the underdevelopment or absence of the ear.
Other common characteristics of Hemifacial Microsomia include lateral oral clefts, a lack of or dysfunctional facial nerves on the affected side of the face, diminished soft tissue of the cheeks, short mandible on the affected side of the face, a shifted chin and small or absent ears.
Treating Hemifacial Microsomia
The best treatment option will be determined by the severity of one’s Hemifacial Microsomia symptoms. Some children with very mild cases of Hemifacial Microsomia may not need treatment. Those with moderate to severe cases of Hemifacial Microsomia will likely need surgery.
Common treatment options include:
- Jaw surgery, sometimes using bone grafting
- Ear reconstruction surgery
- Surgery to address changes in the soft tissue of the eyes and lips
- Nerve grafting
- Muscle transfer surgery
Some of these surgeries involve multiple surgeries. Lip and eye tissue reconstruction surgery can be done before a child turns two. Jaw surgery can be done as early as age three. Many of the other recommended or required surgeries will begin around ages 6-8.
Some surgeries, such as that which reconstruct the ear require the child to be a certain minimum size and to have enough bone cartilage, which keep the surgeries from being done at an earlier age.
At the Cleft & Craniofacial Institute of Utah, we know that every Hemifacial Microsomia case is different. Our medical professionals will diagnose and make individualize treatment recommendations to ensure the best quality of life for each patient.
Untreated Hemifacial Microsomia
Those with Hemifacial Microsomia often lead normal lives and experience no adverse learning or mental disabilities. Medical treatment, however, can correct deformities and lead to an improved quality of life.
Potentially serious complications can occur if one’s Hemifacial Microsomia isn’t treated. These complications can include:
- Spinal malformation
- Heart defects
- Difficulty eating
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty with hearing and speaking
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Crooked teeth
- Limited facial muscle movements
- Nerve problems
- Vision problems
Contact the Cleft & Craniofacial Institute of Utah today to set up a consultation with our doctor to learn more about the available treatment options for your child’s Hemifacial Microsomia case.