What is Craniofacial surgery?

Craniofacial surgery is the most complex area of facial plastic surgery. It is a truly multidisciplinary field as it involves the cosmetic appearance of the skull and face, in addition to the function of the underlying special sense organs and systems that allow vision, speech, smell, hearing and brain function. Traditionally, transcranial access to the facial skeleton and anatomical areas has been developed in only a few world class centres for this specialist area. It is important to see someone like Chris, with the correct training, skills and multidisciplinary support.

What are the non-surgical and surgical options available?

Non-surgical options centre around abnormality camouflage, ranging from medical skin make-up to bespoke surgical prosthetics or orthoses. Surgical options can be highly varied and a bespoke approach is advocated. Often surgery is approached in a staged fashion, especially in children where facial growth is on-going and can be affected, or in adults, where functional requests may have an order of priority.

How long do the results last for?

Invariably, complex problems often require lifelong care and multiple staged procedures. These aim to harmonise facial appearance during growth or ageing, in addition to treating functional problems or new concerns.

What are the risks?

Transcranial access can only be done through a scar that traverses the scalp from ear to ear, over the top of the head. Additional scars in the eyelids, in front of the ears or inside the mouth may also be necessary. A collection of fluid underneath the skin is a common result of surgery and surgical drains are needed to remove this for a few days after surgery. Bleeding and infection are risks, like in any surgery. Rarely these complications require a return to theatre. As the brain and eyes are nearby, there is a small risk of brain irritation and/or damage as well as visual disturbance.

What are the success rates?

It is difficult to measure the actual success of complex multi-stage surgery. The results of some surgeries are functional, some cosmetic and some have both components. Chris has been significantly involved in the creation of the GCOS functional outcome scoring system, still is use by UK world-class centres of excellence.

How much does the surgery cost?

This is highly variable depending on an individual’s circumstances. Occasionally other surgical colleagues will need to be involved to ensure protection of vital organs such as the brain and eye, in addition to achieving the absolute best possible result, which will affect the cost of the surgery.

The indicative prices include the surgical fee, any anaesthetic used and the associated fees from the consultant administering this, in addition to the hospital fee and all tests and follow up. An accurate breakdown and a detailed quote will be given following the initial consultation.

What general advice is there?

Facial swelling and asymmetry can be present for many months after the surgery. Sleeping upright for the first few nights helps reduce the severity of onset swelling and speeds up recovery.