Pediatric Craniofacial Specialty Care
Find your care
Why choose UCLA Health for pediatric craniofacial care?
Our team delivers the most advanced and comprehensive care for children with craniofacial disorders (abnormalities of the skull and face). Highlights of our program include:
Recognized expertise: The UCLA Health Pediatric Craniofacial Specialty Care Center is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States. Since it was established in 1972, our program has achieved national and international recognition. As a regional center for the southwestern United States, patients from all over the area come to us for outstanding care and treatments.
Team approach: Our highly specialized team includes plastic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, pediatricians, medical geneticists, dentists, orthodontists, audiologists and speech pathologists. We work closely with other specialists to ensure your child receives the exceptional care they deserve.
Genetic counseling and support: UCLA Health pediatric genetic specialists use advanced technology to identify the exact gene change that caused the craniofacial abnormality. This precise diagnosis allows us to make treatments more effective. We focus on helping families understand genetic disorders so we can work as a team to ensure each child reaches their full potential.
Groundbreaking procedures: Our program was the first in California to perform neonatal mandibular distraction (jaw lengthening). We specialize in this procedure, which treats and prevents breathing problems that occur in babies born with micrognathia (a very small lower jaw). UCLA Health specialists also pioneered bone tissue engineering for bone grafts. This allows us to use engineered bone (tissue made from stem cells and other materials) for a bone graft instead of removing bone from a patient’s hip or rib. We use bone tissue engineering for several procedures, including mandibular distraction and cleft palate repair.
Coordinated care: To streamline care and make visits with multiple specialists more convenient, our team works with you to schedule several appointments in one day. Your child may meet with as many as 15 doctors and specialists, including experts in orthodontics, ophthalmology, audiology and speech pathology.
Our areas of care
As leaders in pediatric craniofacial care, our team is by your side for every step of your journey. Your child receives world-class care, and your entire family receives well-rounded support. We offer:
UCLA Health genetic counselors specialize in helping you and your family understand genetic disorders that cause craniofacial abnormalities. We work closely with the UCLA Health Genetics Clinic to provide precise diagnoses that identify the exact gene change that caused the disorder.
Our compassionate and knowledgeable team also provides preconception genetic counseling for people with a personal or family history of genetic disorders. We work with parents to evaluate inheritance patterns and assess the chance of passing along genetic disorders.
Customized care plans
With a strong emphasis on teamwork, our experts come together to address the varied needs of children with craniofacial differences. We customize every treatment plan for your child based on their age, lifestyle and other medical conditions. We partner with you and your family to adjust your child’s plan as they grow and their needs change.
Your child receives specialized care from many experts, including speech therapists, orthodontists, otolaryngologists, ophthalmologists and developmental pediatricians. We are skilled at helping babies and kids at every stage of childhood.
If necessary, our team also helps your child transition to adult care. For example, some children with cleft lip and cleft palate need a series of surgeries as an infant, toddler, child, teenager and young adult. UCLA Health specialists work closely with you to perform these procedures at the right ages, evaluate your child’s progress and deliver appropriate follow-up care.
Advanced surgical techniques
Our highly skilled surgeons have extensive experience with the latest surgical procedures to treat the full range of disorders affecting the head and neck. We specialize in minimally invasive techniques that require smaller incisions and involve less recovery time.
If your child needs traditional (open) surgery, UCLA Health pediatric surgeons are among the top experts in the world. Our surgical team works together to deliver outstanding care.
Support, education and resources
While delivering the highest-quality medical treatments and therapies, our team offers you and your family information, guidance and support. We understand the challenges that can accompany caring for a child with special medical needs.
Our team ensures that you and your child understand your care plan and get the support you need. You’ll have access to comprehensive patient education and resources as well as support groups for families who share your experience.
Craniofacial conditions we treat
At the UCLA Mattel Pediatric Craniofacial Specialty Care Center, we treat even the most complex craniofacial conditions. Our world-renowned experts specialize in advanced treatments for congenital disorders (facial differences that are present at birth). We also restore craniofacial features in babies and children who have abnormalities that result from trauma and accidents.
Some of the most common conditions we treat include:
Cleft lip and cleft palate: These disorders involve openings in a newborn’s upper lip or palate (roof of the mouth) that develop before birth.
Craniosynostosis: This congenital abnormality (birth defect) happens when bones in an infant’s skull join together too early, causing the skull to have an abnormal shape. Craniosynostosis can result from several genetic disorders, including Crouzon syndrome and Saethre-Chotzen syndrome.
Hemifacial microsomia: The eye, cheek, skull, nose and other tissues on one side of the face are underdeveloped, causing an asymmetrical appearance.
Microtia: This congenital abnormality happens when the outer part of a baby’s ear doesn’t form properly. It is either too small (microtia) or completely missing (anotia).
Pfeiffer syndrome and Apert syndrome: These genetic disorders result in abnormalities of the skull, face, hands and feet.
Pierre Robin sequence: This genetic disorder causes breathing problems that result from an underdeveloped jaw (micrognathia). The baby’s tongue is also displaced, and it can fall back into the throat, blocking the airway. Children with Pierre Robin sequence often have a cleft palate as well.
Treacher Collins syndrome: Bones and tissues in the face do not develop properly while a baby grows in the womb. Babies with Treacher Collins syndrome often have underdeveloped cheekbones, a small jaw and a chin and eyes that slant downward.
Craniofacial treatments we offer
At UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, we offer compassionate care, comprehensive therapies and effective treatments for craniofacial abnormalities. Our specialties include:
Nonsurgical treatments and therapy
Many of the conditions we treat affect speech, hearing and vision. Some children with craniofacial differences also have learning delays or difficulty meeting developmental milestones. We work as a team to address each of these issues, prevent complications and help your child reach their full potential.
Your child’s treatment plan may include speech therapy, hearing aids and social and emotional support. Children with cleft lip and cleft palate receive expert treatments, which may involve orthodontic devices that can reduce the number of surgical procedures they’ll need. We tailor every treatment and therapy plan to fit your child’s needs.
UCLA Health pediatric surgeons have specialized experience helping babies and children with craniofacial anomalies. If your child needs surgery, you can feel comfortable knowing they’re in expert hands. We use the most advanced techniques and focus on minimizing scarring as much as possible. Our team has expertise in common and complex surgical procedures, such as:
Cleft lip and cleft palate repair: There are many different surgeries that correct cleft lip and cleft palate to prevent or minimize problems with speech, hearing and eating. Some children need several procedures throughout childhood. These surgeries close openings in the mouth, repair the palate and reshape the nose and lips.
Craniosynostosis surgery: We are skilled at traditional (open) techniques as well as minimally invasive procedures to treat this condition.
Neonatal mandibular distraction: This surgery lengthens a small or recessed jaw to correct and prevent breathing problems.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeries: UCLA Health pediatric surgeons are experts at a wide range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. As pediatricians, we understand the importance of striking the right balance between offering procedures that enhance a child’s appearance and encouraging children to be proud of who they are.
Our highly specialized team includes plastic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, pediatricians, medical geneticists, dentists, orthodontists, audiologists and speech pathologists. We partner with ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons, maxillofacial prosthetics specialists and otolaryngologists to deliver thorough care and expert treatments. Experienced social workers and psychologists address the mental and emotional health of your child and your family.
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Physicians
- Laura Carillo, MS, CCC-SLP - Speech Pathology
- Nicole Schussel, MS, CCC-SLP - Speech Pathology
- Ting-Ling Chang, DDS - Maxillofacial Prosthetics
- Joseph Demer, MD, PhD - Ophthalmology
- Toni Ellis, RN - Craniofacial Nurse Coordinator
- Setareh Ghafouri, DDS - Pedodontics (Pediatric Dentistry)
- Monica Jones, Au.D-Audiology
- Jessica Kianmahd, MS, LCGC - Genetic Counselor
- Aria Fallah, M.D., MS - Neurosurgery
- Anthony Wang, MD-Neurosurgery
- Stacy Pineles, M.D. - Ophthalmology
- Sylvia Villasenor, LCSW - Social Work
- Alisha West, MD - Otolaryngology
- Daniela Schweitzer, MD - Pediatrics & Human Genetics
- Elizabeth Castellanos, B.A.- Clinic Coordinator
- Brenda Bursch, PhD-Psychology