Distraction osteogenesis is a procedure that is performed to correct deformities of the oral and facial skeleton. The procedure itself is one of the safest and most predictable methods for correcting facial and oral defects. During distraction osteogenesis, two segments of bone are slowly spread apart until they are placed into the correct position. This gradual spreading of the bone segments allows soft tissue to regenerate and form, eventually turning into new bone.
Patients undergoing distraction osteogenesis are typically scheduled for two separate surgeries. In the first surgical procedure, part of the bone is cut and the distraction device is placed. The distraction device contains a pin that can be turned at precise intervals and distances, so the patient will slowly stretch the bone segments apart over the next 7-14 days. For about 6-8 weeks after the first procedure, the patient has to allow time for the regenerated tissue to heal and become strong new bone. Once this new bone has hardened and healed, the device has to be removed in a second short surgical procedure.
While the thought of any surgery sounds unpleasant, most patients say that the gradual spreading process is less painful than braces or other forms of orthodontic treatment. During the surgical procedure, patients are placed under general anesthesia and do not experience pain. During the distraction process, patients can expect to experience mild discomfort, which can be aided with prescribed painkillers to help mitigate this process.
How Do I Know if I Am a Candidate for Distraction Osteogenesis?
Distraction osteogenesis can be performed on patients of any age, but it is recommended for younger patients. For younger patients, the period of distraction and recovery is much shorter than that of adults. This is because younger patients generally have faster bone regenerative capabilities than adults.
If you have a congenital craniofacial defect, such as a cleft palate, Crouzon, Apert or other craniosynostosis syndromes, or an improperly formed lower jaw, you may need to undergo distraction osteogenesis. Distraction osteogenesis can also be used to correct facial injuries resulting from trauma or be used as treatment in the place of bone graft surgery.
If you are interested in finding out more about distraction osteogenesis and discover if it may be an option to correct your facial defect, please contact us. Our office staff is happy to set up an initial consultation with Dr. Zachary Weber. At Northern Westchester Oral Surgery, we work hand in hand with our patients to ensure that they achieve the surgical results that they desire.