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Patient Story

Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Rowan Sicola underwent delicate skull surgery at nine months of age – today he's a happy and healthy kid, thanks to the Craniofacial Team at Dell Children's.

Nicole Sicola sensed a problem with her 9 month-old baby, Rowan, when his head began to take on a strange shape. Normally babies are born with an opening in their skull (often called the "soft spot") that remains open long enough to give the brain room to grow. Rowan's opening had closed too early, and because his brain was growing rapidly, pressure was building and forcing his head to grow in an oblong shape. If he didn't undergo surgery, the shape of his head would grow to be dramatically abnormal with potential problems of pressure building in the brain, developmental delays or blindness.

After meeting with the Craniofacial Team, Rowan underwent a nine hour surgery so that doctors could create an opening in his skull to allow his brain room to grow. After five uncomfortable postoperative days with tubes coming out of his chest, head and arms, he returned home with an excellent prognosis. Rowan will continue to be monitored closely by the Craniofacial Team as his skull grows. Today he's three and a half and loves swimming, preschool and Transformers.

"I tried to be strong and didn't want Rowan to sense my fear," says Nicole. "From the beginning, I had two completely self-assured, confident surgeons telling me that he would be OK. One good thing to come out of this experience – I learned to put things into perspective. Problems aren't so big, and life isn't so bad."

Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center – Funding Priorities

The Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center at Dell Children's Medical Center helps children born with deformities of the jaw, face or skull, or who have tumors or injuries in these areas. The Center offers care coordinated by a team of pediatric healthcare specialists – including Austin's first and only craniofacial plastic surgeon, a neurosurgeon, and a craniofacial orthodontist – that guides patients from diagnosis through treatment that can sometimes last for years.

In addition, Dell Children's offers additional specialized support services including a cleft-trained speech pathologist, pediatric nurses, social workers and child life experts who help erase children's fears and educate families so they can cope with healthcare treatments.

The Center also focuses on the education of future healthcare providers and research to improve the understanding, evaluation and treatment of craniofacial disorders.

You can help children in need of craniofacial care with a gift to the Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center. The Foundation is raising money for the 3dMD, an advanced surface imaging system that provides an ultra-fast and highly accurate three-dimensional picture of the surface of a child's head and/or skull. For more information on giving opportunities to help build a world-class craniofacial center at Dell Children's, contact the Foundation at (512) 324-0170. To learn more about the Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center, call (512) 324-0918.