About Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery at UPMC Children’s

Orthognathic (or-thog-NATH-ik) surgery is commonly known as jaw surgery. It is done to reconstruct a jaw that’s out of alignment — the top and bottom jaws aren’t in the best position — due to growth abnormalities.

Often the first step in correcting your child’s jaw is orthodontics. If your child’s jaw alignment can’t be corrected with braces alone, your pediatrician or orthodontist may suggest corrective jaw surgery.

A misaligned upper and lower jaw can cause pain and problems with:

  • Eating: An uneven bite can make it hard to bite and chew food, which can wear down or injure teeth.
  • Breathing: A blocked airway can cause obstructive sleep apnea, affecting a child’s growth and development.
  • Appearance: Conditions such as cleft lip and palate, a severe underbite or overbite, an open bite, or uneven jaws need surgery to improve facial balance.

Orthognathic Expertise

At UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, our surgeons are experts in jaw surgery. They use the most advanced and innovative surgical techniques to give your child the highest quality care.

As one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals, we can call on a multidisciplinary team of pediatric specialists. They include experts in orthodontics, dental, speech therapy, and craniofacial surgery. Together, they provide compassionate, skilled care to address your child’s needs, particularly in complex cases.

Our access to state-of-the-art technology gives us an edge. Advanced imaging lets us customize your child’s surgery. High-tech computer modeling helps us create a virtual plan. Before undertaking a procedure, we can perform a surgery virtually to determine the best surgical approach for your child’s needs. Our long-time relationships with specialized custom tool makers help us make surgery faster and more streamlined.

Orthognathic Surgical Procedures

The most common corrective jaw surgeries are:

  • LeFort I: A procedure used to correct upper jaw deformities when the top jaw is malpositioned or set back (retruded).
  • Bilateral Split Osteotomy (BSSO): The most commonly performed jaw surgery, BSSO corrects lower jaw deformities. In some cases, it is performed with the LeFort 1.
  • Genioplasty-Genioglossus Advancement: These procedures reshape or reposition the chin, and can bring the tongue forward to open the airway. The goal is to improve breathing and balance the appearance of facial features.
  • Neonatal Mandibular Distraction Osteogenesis: We also are among a select group of children’s hospitals nationwide to offer mandibular distraction for newborn infants with abnormally small jawbones. This procedure is offered for infants with significant breathing issues due to an obstructed upper airway.

Our Experts

Our surgeons bring years of experience and innovation to your child’s care. They are national and international leaders in orthognathic surgery. You will find them speaking at conferences worldwide and teaching other surgeons across the country. They also conduct active research to advance the field.

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment with the Division of Pediatric Plastic Surgery, call 412-692-8650. Online scheduling is also available for both in-person and video visits.