Paul Tessier
Dr. Paul Tessier

Craniofacial surgery is the subspecialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery that corrects congenital and acquired deformities of the head, skull, face, neck, jaws and associated structures. This subspecialty of Plastic Surgery was invented by a French plastic surgeon named Dr. Paul Tessier who pioneered the technique of correcting facial anomalies through a transcranial approach. A transcranial approach refers to the technique of removing a portion of the skull to access the surgical site, and the plastic surgeon typically works with a neurosurgeon to perform these procedures. Once the repair is complete, the skull bone is replaced leaving minimal, if any, scar.

Although the subspecialty of craniofacial treatment was born from Tessier's innovation in skeletal surgery of the skull, the specialty has grown to become the subspecialty of plastic surgery that restores facial form by addressing both skeletal and soft tissue abnormalities. Craniofacial surgeons have expertise in surgery on bone, muscle, nerves, fat, and skin. These are the principles that are taught during plastic surgery training, which is why the foundation training in Plastic Surgery is important.

Facial anomalies typically treated by craniofacial surgeons include craniosynostosis (isolated and syndromic), rare craniofacial clefts, acute and chronic sequellae of facial fractures, cleft lip and palate, micrognathia, Treacher Collins Syndrome, Apert's Syndrome, Crouzon's Syndrome, Craniofacial microsomia, microtia and other congenital ear anomalies, and many other conditions described on our website.

The American Society for Craniofacial Surgery (ASCFS) recognizes training from ASCFS approved Craniofacial surgery fellowships (see education). These fellowships are available to individuals who have completed a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery. In the United States, cleft and craniofacial centers are found in many major academic centers (see team listings).

QUALIFICATIONS of a Craniofacial Surgeon
In order to become a craniofacial surgeon, a medical student must complete a residency in plastic surgery after graduation. After completion of a residency in plastic surgery, an additional year of craniofacial surgery fellowship is completed to become a craniofacial surgeon. To become a member of the American Society for Craniofacial Surgery, the surgeon must be board certified in plastic surgery and have completed a craniofacial surgery fellowship approved by the American Society for Craniofacial Surgery.