With hemifacial microsomia, one side of your face doesn’t develop as it should. It can affect your child’s breathing, eating and hearing. Surgery can address many of these issues. It takes time and multiple procedures to maximize functioning and cosmetic results.
Hemifacial microsomia is a condition that's present at birth. It occurs when part of one side of your face doesn’t develop as it should. Sometimes it occurs on both sides of your face. The condition may also be called craniofacial microsomia, oculo-auriculo-vertebral spectrum or oculoauricular dysplasia.
Hemifacial microsomia can affect your:
It’s the second most common facial abnormality after cleft lip and palate.
Symptoms depend on which part of your face it affects:
A physical exam and imaging studies are typically all that are necessary for diagnosis. In some cases, healthcare providers detect signs of the condition before birth using prenatal ultrasound.
Additional imaging studies after birth help determine the severity. These include:
Other tests your child’s healthcare provider may recommend include:
Surgery is often necessary to repair or reconstruct facial features. The type and timing of these procedures depend on your child’s needs. It’s often necessary to delay procedures or perform them in multiple stages as your child grows.
Care for children with hemifacial microsomia may include:
These procedures are for your child's jaw and may include:
These procedures include:
Procedures that otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat surgeons) perform include:
Ophthalmologists perform a range of procedures that may include:
Plastic surgeons enhance facial features by:
In severe cases, treatments are necessary immediately after birth. These include:
Nonsurgical therapies may include:
No. Scientists are still trying to determine what causes this condition. But research shows that it isn't the result of circumstances that did or did not occur during pregnancy.
In most cases, the condition doesn't limit life expectancy. A child born with this condition can expect to live about as long as a child without it.
But hemifacial microsomia can affect quality of life. As children get older, they'll have to cope with the challenges of looking different. Tasks that are easy for other children, like eating, talking or sleeping, may be difficult even with successful surgeries.
Children with this condition need ongoing medical care, including multiple surgeries. But once they reach early adulthood, they likely won’t need any more procedures. Long-term follow-up may be necessary to check for issues that come back or worsen over time. Epibulbar dermoids can return. Hearing aids and implants may need adjusting.
Physical challenges and the psychological effects of looking different can impact your child’s emotional health. Seeking support through counseling is essential in helping your child develop coping strategies.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hemifacial microsomia occurs when one side of the face doesn’t develop as it should. It can affect your child’s ability to eat, see, hear, breathe and more. But they can still live a long, productive life. Surgery is often necessary to repair physical differences and maximize functioning. Counseling can help your child cope with emotional and social challenges.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/19/2022.
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