Distraction Osteogenesis

Distraction osteogenesis treats defects and deformities in the oral and facial skeleton. It involves a surgery and a painless, after-surgery process of slowly stretching a bone to lengthen it. As stretching occurs, the bone healing process naturally fills the gap. This surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure with most patients returning home the same day of surgery. Advances in this field have provided a safe and predictable method for treating oral and facial deformities, typically producing less pain and swelling than traditional surgical procedures for a similar condition. 

Who should have a Distraction Osteogenesis Procedure?

The most common conditions treated by Distraction Osteogenesis include: 

Cleft Palate

Crouzon Syndrome

An improperly formed lower jaw

Additional craniosynostosis syndromes

Deformities resulting from traumatic injuries

Recent advancements have also provided oral and maxillofacial surgeons with a distraction device that can be used to slowly grow bone in reabsorbed areas of the upper and lower jaws. This bone can serve as a foundation for dental implants.

The Procedure

Our doctor will take an X-ray of your facial structure to get a rendering of your bone condition.  

On the day of the surgery, you will be put completely to sleep under general anesthesia and therefore can expect to experience no pain. An incision will be made to give the surgeon access to the bone. When possible, our surgeons don’t make incisions in the face to prevent facial scarring.  

 The surgeon will make a cut in the bone and place the two halves in the designated position. A distractor will be inserted that slowly pulls the bone apart over a period of two or more months.

This procedure leverages the body’s natural ability to regenerate and heal itself. As the bone is pulled apart, the space between the bone regenerates, and the end result is a lengthened bone.  

Activation of the distraction device may cause some mild discomfort. However, the stretching process is generally not a painful one and many report it to be more comfortable than having braces tightened.  

You will be required to return to our office frequently during the initial two weeks of surgery to be closely monitored for any infection and to learn how to activate the appliance. 

Though distraction osteogenesis works well with patients of all ages, the younger the patient the shorter the distraction time and the faster the consolidation phase. Adults require a slightly longer distraction and consolidation period as their bone regenerative capabilities are slightly slower.   

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