donate icon DONATE

At Shriners Children’s, families find internationally recognized craniofacial care, hope and compassion.

Sometimes a new baby or adopted child has a difference in their smile or the shape of their face, nose or chin, known as a craniofacial (head and face) difference. Conditions can range from mild to severe.

Shriners Children’s specialists can help with the physical, social, emotional and developmental challenges that occur when a child has a congenital (present at birth) or acquired (develops later) condition. We provide a team approach at child-friendly facilities, where multiple specialists see the child all in one day. It's our goal to make medical care convenient and friendly for the child and parent.

Shriners Children’s locations offer advanced treatments and services such as craniofacial surgery, 3D printing for jaw surgeries, facial and dental imaging, psychology, speech therapy, audiology, ear, nose and throat surgeons, dental and orthodontic related services, and care management. Our family-centered approach celebrates the journey of each patient, inviting the parent to collaborate with specialists to create the best treatment plan for their child.

We’re proud that multiple Shriners Children’s locations are American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association approved teams. Our plastic surgeons have undergone additional training to evaluate and treat craniofacial conditions in children.

Because Shriners Children’s provides all care and services regardless of a family’s ability to pay or insurance status, physicians and families are able to consider every appropriate treatment option available. Learn more below about the pediatric craniofacial conditions we treat and our commitment to the overall well-being of your child.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Specialized care as your child grows

Care for your child may begin and end in infancy, or continue until they are fully grown. Our doctors and specialists are even available to consult with parents who are adopting, or expecting a baby who has been diagnosed in utero, with a craniofacial difference; for example: cleft lip/cleft palate.

Many craniofacial differences will require multiple surgeries to improve the way a child’s face and head looks and functions. Our surgical techniques minimize visible scars and help patients enjoy a normal full life.

Cleft Lip and Palate & Craniofacial Care at Shriners Children's

Facial clefts are the number one craniofacial birth defect addressed by our patient and family-centered teams, led by our board-certified plastic surgeons. The cleft teams at Shriners Hospitals for Children understand that the repercussions of cleft lip and cleft palate often run much deeper – affecting breathing, hearing, speaking and eating. It is common for self-esteem and emotional health to be impacted as well.
View Transcript
     

Fran Farley:

Shriners Children's is an internationally recognized leader in treating cleft lip, cleft palate, and other craniofacial anomalies. Our family-centered approach celebrates the journey of each and every patient, inviting the family to collaborate with specialists, crafting the best treatment plan for their child. We are committed to excellence with a dedication to medical and clinical research that helps provide the latest technology and treatment options for patients.

Eric Liao:

The cornerstone of cleft care is really the two parts of multidisciplinary care and longitudinal care. I think Shriner's, given its history and infrastructure and tradition of taking care of complex pediatric disorders, is really good at both of those things. When a family comes, it's a very family-centered experience where the family will meet every specialist. The focus then is to give the patient the best advice and best surgical planning going forward. The family will meet a plastic surgeon that was specialized to the repair of the lip and palate. For example, the oral maxillofacial surgeon that will deal with bone grafting and the orthodontist. In addition to the physicians and surgeons, the patient will also meet a speech therapist, nutritionist, social workers, pediatricians, if necessary, and the sociologists. Really unique to have all the specialists here in one day for that visit.

Fran Farley:

Shriners Children's understands that cleft lip and cleft palate, as well as other craniofacial conditions present unique characteristics and challenges.

Jennifer Woerner:

Cleft lip and palate in this country runs about one in six to 700 live birth. It's usually a random occurrence. We don't know why it happens necessarily. I think when they come in prenatally and they hear that, they learn that it's really nothing that they've done or anything they could have prevented. It's just something random that happened and now they're here as a part of our family to help them take care of it. We see children from all ages, newborn all the way up until about 18 years of age, when they go to college. I tell all our patients and our families that if you have a child who is born with a cleft, they're part of my family till they go to college. I can't keep them after that, but at least till 18 they're mine.

Fran Farley:

Each child is met with respect, compassion, and a forward looking approach that supports the best quality of life for the child, by achieving the best possible medical outcome. I encourage parents and caregivers to explore the treatment options Shriner's Children's offers. Learn about our innovative approach to medicine and our internationally recognized doctors. I truly believe there isn't a healthcare system out there like ours.


The staff was so friendly and helpful. The Cleft/Craniofacial team provided all the information, support and level of specialized care that we were seeking.
Kelly, Chicago

Craniofacial Conditions We Treat

Shriners Children’s provides care for hundreds of craniofacial conditions and syndromes. The types of conditions we treat vary by location. These are conditions we commonly see in children:

  • Cleft Lip
  • Cleft Palate
  • Craniofacial Microsomia
  • Goldenhar Syndrome/Hemifacial microsomia
  • Differences in babies’ ears, head shape and face shape
  • Craniofacial anomalies associated with congenital syndromes such as 22q11.2 deletion, Crouzon, Apert, Pfieffer or Treacher-Collins.
  • Chronic wounds (wounds that won't heal), such as pressure wounds
  • Dog Bites

Our plastic surgery team can also provide care for other conditions such as jaw deformities, vascular malformation /nevi, and hemangioma.

Plan Your Visit

Families are amazed that at Shriners Children's they see so many specialists in one place, all focused on their child. The craniofacial team meets together several days per week to coordinate treatment planning across the specialties, to help kids live their absolute best lives, no matter where they are in the course of treatment. Your child will likely see the entire team of specialists once or twice per year.

After checking in, you will be escorted to your exam room. All the specialists your child needs to see that day will come to you. This may include plastic surgeons, oral maxillofacial surgeons, ear, nose and throat doctors, psychologists, orthodontists and dentists, speech pathologists, pediatric nurses/nurse practitioners and clinical dietitians. Care managers (RNs and social workers) are available to help patients and families find resources they need during the child’s various stages of care.

Families should be prepared to spend several hours for full-team appointments. After each team appointment, you will receive a multidisciplinary team report to take to your child's doctors at home.

In some cases, telehealth appointments may be available to bring our specialty care to where you are.

patient and therapist with pet dog

Giving Children Comfort and Coping Skills

Surgery and procedures can seem overwhelming to children. Child life specialists help patients understand what's happening. Using play and education, they help patients feel calm during medical care.

Services We Provide

View All

3D Printing for Jaw Surgeries

Shriners Children’s offers an innovative approach for children who need surgery on their jaw, which involves repositioning the jaws to improve the child’s bite and appearance.

Facial and Dental Imaging

Shriners Children’s offers specialized facial and dental imaging (X-rays) for children with craniofacial differences. The painless process helps surgeons and doctors understand each child’s unique facial anatomy to plan treatment.

Dentistry

Shriners Children’s offers a multidisciplinary team to address your dental concerns related to a variety of craniofacial conditions. Our specialists will evaluate your child and provide an individualized care plan.

Ear, Nose, Throat Services

Ear, nose and throat services, known as ENT, involve the care and treatment of a range of head and neck disorders. Many craniofacial conditions treated at Shriners Children's also involve ENT specialist care.

Speech Therapy

The speech therapy services available to patients at Shriners Children’s benefit children from birth through adolescence who have difficulties with communication and swallowing.

Care Management

The care management team at Shriners Children's consists of registered nurses and social workers who act as resources for families throughout their plan of care.

Psychiatry & Psychological Services

Our psychologists at Shriners Children's specialize in evaluating and providing support to children and their families who are adjusting to a new diagnosis or having difficulty in their everyday lives due to trauma.

School and Community Re-entry Program

Shriners Children’s offers educational services and re-entry programs to children who are receiving inpatient care for prolonged periods of time.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.