A Soft-Tissue Approach to Midfacial Hypoplasia Associated With Treacher Collins Syndrome

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Treacher Collins syndrome is an autosomal dominant mandibulofacial dysostosis with characteristic hard- and soft-tissue facial abnormalities. These include ocular malformations, ear malformations, and hypoplasia of the facial skeleton, especially of the malar bones and mandible. Traditionally, surgical correction of the facial abnormalities has focused on skeletal reconstruction to restore facial form and symmetry. In this report, we describe the use of customized parascapular free flaps, after standard reconstructive surgeries, for the correction of defects of facial contour in Treacher Collins patients. In most cases, bony reconstruction of the zygoma or periorbita is not required.


From June 1995 to December 2003, 8 patients with Treacher Collins syndrome underwent microsurgical correction of facial contour using 16 free flaps. In all patients, staged parascapular free flaps were used for reconstruction. The microvascular technique involved a 2-team approach with simultaneous ipsilateral parascapular flap harvest and facial pocket dissection. The flaps were contoured, revascularized (14 superficial temporal vessels, 2 facial vessels), and inset. No vein grafts were used. The patients were followed for a minimum of 1 year, and postoperative evaluation included medical photography, visual assessment, and evaluation by the patient and family.


Seven patients had previous facial skeleton correction using craniofacial techniques. The age at operation ranged from 4–19 years. Sixteen parascapular free flaps were used in the 8 patients. Postoperative complications were limited to 1 hematoma. There were no partial or total flap losses. All of the patients had improved facial contour and symmetry. Overlying skin tone and color similarly improved.


After traditional skeletal reconstruction for the complex craniofacial defects of Treacher Collins syndrome, deficiencies in facial contour and symmetry usually persist. Customized soft-tissue free flaps can be employed to differentially resurface these defects and achieve optimal esthetic results in these challenging patients.

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