UCLA Craniofacial Program: Creating Confidence & Changing Lives
Somewhere in the US, a child is born with a craniofacial condition every hour. Craniofacial disorder results from abnormal growth patterns of soft tissue or bones of the face or skull, or trauma or cancer-related injuries. Children with craniofacial abnormalities often have difficulty breathing and swallowing food and are often afflicted with speech impediments—three of the most basic human functions necessary for life.
Most Americans have heard about common facial abnormalities that can be corrected with surgery, such as cleft lip and palate, but there are also severe craniofacial conditions which can be permanent and can dramatically impact the quality of life and confidence of the child, such as craniosyntosis and craniofacial microsomia.
The UCLA Craniofacial Clinic was founded in 1972 and is one of the oldest, most reputable programs in the world. The program serves as a regional center for the southwestern United States. Utilizing a team approach, we provide patients with individualized care, bringing together plastic surgeons, specialized medical experts, and social workers to develop comprehensive and coordinated treatment plans for each of our 1,500 patients.
Our medical team is all-encompassing, with craniofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeons, head and neck surgeons, pediatricians, medical geneticists, orthodontists, pediatric dentists, audiologists and speech pathologists.
Surgical services are offered at UCLA for a variety of craniofacial anomalies:
Through its multi-disciplinary approach, public programming, and supportive community of doctors and professionals, the UCLA Craniofacial Clinic empowers children and young adults with visible facial abnormalities, enabling them to cope better in society.
However, over 70% of our patients are under-insured and come from low-income households. Insurance companies consider certain procedures for congenital craniofacial anomalies to be cosmetic. For example, dental implants in children who are congenitally missing teeth are not covered. While this may be only 1-2 teeth in children with cleft lip and palate (several thousand dollars of out of pocket costs), certain conditions such as ectodermal dysplasia affects all of the teeth. In these cases, implants would cost patients and their families tens of thousands of dollars. As children age into adults, more of these procedures are considered cosmetic by insurance providers. Revisions of procedures to correct nasal deformities in cleft lip and palate are frequently considered cosmetic as adults.
As a UCLA Health Clinic which exists under the Division of Plastic Surgery, many of the medical treatments and surgeries we offer are considered 'cosmetic' and are not covered by insurance. Additionally, all of our supplementary therapies, like social work, speech therapy, etc. is also not covered. This leaves families with difficult choices to make.
The UCLA Craniofacial Clinic believes that every child should have access to the life-saving and life-transforming medical treatments we offer, no matter their ability to pay.
In honor of the 47 years since Drs. Henry Kawamoto and Yoshio Setoguchi founded the UCLA Craniofacial Clinic, we are seeking 47 donors who share our mission and want to support our patients by making a gift of ANY SIZE.
Philanthropic contributions enable:
- Mental health support from psychiatrists to help patients develop resilience and coping skills in the face of bullying or other childhood social challenges
- Access to life-changing procedures such as dental implants, which drastically impact quality of life, but are not covered by insurance
- Dedicated social workers to help families overcome financial hardships by providing transportation vouchers, meals during extended stays, and housing
UCLA Pediatric Craniofacial Program:
Since 1972, the UCLA Pediatric Craniofacial Program has provided a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of children with craniofacial differences. The program has acquired national and international recognition due to many of surgical advances in the treatment of craniofacial anomalies that our group developed. Our commonly treated diagnoses include Apert Syndrome, cleft lip and/or palate, craniosynostosis, Crouzon Syndrome, encephaloceles, craniofacial microsomia (hemifacial microsomia), microtia, Nager Syndrome, Pfeiffer Syndrome, Pierre Robin Sequence, Saethre Chotzen Syndrome, and Treacher Collins Syndrome. In popular culture, craniofacial conditions have recently gained some attention in the movie Wonder. As such, treatment of kids born with craniofacial differences require not only surgery but also multiple disciplines including dentistry, orthodontics, psychology, psychiatry, genetics, speech pathology, and audiology
Annual Craniofacial Picnic
Our picnic is an annual free event for children with congenital craniofacial conditions, their friends, and their families to come together as a community. The event is completely funded by philanthropic donations.