Cleft Lip and Palate
Dr. Severinac has performed Cleft Lip and Palate Repair in Fort Wayne, IN since 1996. He initially became a plastic surgeon to treat children with crainiofacial deformities. He considers these special patients his babies and loves nothing more than seeing them grow up and lead normal lives. His passion and expertise for these children shows in the incredible results and happiness of the parents:
Charitable Mission Work
Dr. Severinac performs reconstructive surgery on children from Burkina Faso, Guana, the Ivory Coast, and China. These sweet children are brought from areas of the world were no treatment is availabe. Dr. Severinac and Dupont Hospital then provide the reconstruction in one to three operations in up to a years time. The children are then sent back home with a chance a normal life.
Children's Craniofacial Center
Dr. Severinac with Dr. Baron Whateley is the co-founder and co-director of the Children’s Craniofacial Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Since 1996, the center specializes in a team approach to treating children with craniofacial abnormalities, such as cleft lip and palate from birth through adolescents. This team approach is crucial because children born with severe deformities require treatment from several medical specialties, including plastic surgery, pediatrics, dentistry, orthodontics, otolaryngology, and speech therapy.
The Children's Craniofacial Center Team meets every other month to evaluate and provide ongoing care and planning. The team members include Dr. Severinac (plastic surgery), Dr. Whateley (orthodontics), Dr. John Shank (oral surgery), Dr. James Shupe (pediatric dentistry), Dr. Stephen Schreck (otolaryngology), Robin Faust SSLP (speech therapy), and Michelle Persons, RN (nurse coordinator Dupont Hospital).
These special children are followed in the Children’s Craniofacial Center at Dupont Hospital. Robin Faust SSLP, our speech therapists, watches the children closely for speech and hearing difficulties. Dr. Schreck directs ear care and realizes that all patients with cleft palates need ear tubes to drain the middle ear in order to avoid recurrent infections, hearing loss, and subsequent speech failure. Dr. Shupe directs tooth hygiene and care which can be a challenge in these children. Dr. Whateley directs orthodontics and help plan orthognathic procedures performed by Dr. Shank.
Cleft lip and palate are the most common craniofacial deformities affecting newborns in the United States. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the problem affects approximately one in every 800 babies born. Cleft lip and cleft palate are associated birth defects and occur while the infant is still developing within the womb. Under normal conditions, the left and right sides of the upper lip and the roof of the mouth (palate) will meet and grow together within the early weeks of development. In the case of a cleft lip or palate, however, these two sections never fully meet. If the two lip sections fail to grow together, the result is a cleft lip. If the two portions of the roof do not meet, the result is a cleft palate. It is possible for a child to be born with a cleft of the lip, cleft palate, on one or both sides, in any combination.
Our surgical approach to treatment for cleft lip and palate is working from the inside out. The dental and facial bone structure is corrected with the Latham appliance placed shortly after birth by Dr. Whateley. This brings the palatal segment slowly together as the baby’s parents turn a screw in the appliance a small amount each day. After about two to three months, the appliance is removed and the gum line portion of the palate is repaired by Dr. Severinac. At about nine to 12 months, the remaining palate and lip are repaired by Dr. Severinac. Typically, most centers do no repair the gum line area and leave this open until early puberty. In these cases, the teeth will be severely misaligned and an operation to close the gum line with bone graft will be necessary. We obtain complete repair by around one year of age, giving the patient the best chance for normal speech and dental development. This is only possible with Dr. Whateley’s expertise with the Latham appliance in bringing the wide clefts together, and his keen knowledge of the dental and medical literature supporting his techniques.
During late childhood, a procedure to bring the upper jaw forward through distraction techniques is performed by Dr. Shank. In cleft children, inadequate growth of the midface and upper jaw is often encountered. This distraction of the upper jaw and midface is only possible in our patients because of the relatively normal and intact gum line achieved through the above operations.
If you have a baby with a cleft or know someone that does, please call our office for the best available treatment. We love these special children.
Congenital defects to the hand can also be treated surgically with great success. Often, this surgery can be performed at an early age, ensuring proper growth and functional development for the child. Common congenital hand deformities include syndactyly (fusion of one or more of the fingers) and additional, absent, or deformed fingers. Most congenital hand deformities can be treated surgically, resulting in significant improvement. If either you or your child has a congenital hand deformity, Dr. Severinac would be pleased to discuss your surgical options with you. Please contact us today for a consultation.