Craniofacial Disorders and Cleft Lip/Palate

Portrait of seven-month-old Oliver and his mom. Doernbecher surgeons repaired Oliver's cleft lip.
Oliver was born with cleft lip. OHSU Doernbecher doctors performed surgery to repair his lip and nose.

OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital is a leader in cleft and craniofacial care. We treat children with craniofacial conditions, including cleft lip and palate. Our care starts before birth and continues until adulthood. We offer:

  • The largest and longest-running cleft and craniofacial program in Oregon, with more than 5,000 patient visits each year.
  • Appointment plans so your family can see multiple specialists in one visit.
  • Expertise in 16 specialties, including reconstructive surgery, neurosurgery, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, speech therapy, orthodontics and psychology.
  • Leading therapies like Nasoalveolar Molding (NAM), an innovative way to mold the lip and nose before cleft lip repair.
  • Expertise in complex surgical techniques, including microsurgery and facial reanimation.
  • Access to Doernbecher’s support services, fetal care program and Child Life Program.

Our excellence

As Oregon’s only academic health center, Doernbecher is leading the way in research and treatment for craniofacial conditions.

  • Our cleft and craniofacial teams are accredited by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association.
  • We have the most experience in Oregon caring for children with craniofacial disorders. Our surgeons are trained in the most advanced surgical methods and we offer complete patient care.
  • We are among the top hospitals in the country for children. Our doctors are national leaders in treating rare and complex craniofacial conditions.
  • We offer innovative and patient-centered options including:
    • Virtual planning for complex surgeries
    • Outreach clinics for routine visits

Team-based care

We work together to care for your child. We create a treatment plan that includes visits with all the specialists your child needs.

  • Our care coordinator is your guide throughout your child’s treatment, connecting you with social workers, interpreters or other services.
  • Our specialists are all available on Mondays and Wednesdays so we can schedule all your child’s appointments on the same day.
  • Our team includes doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and a feeding specialist who focuses on our patients.

Groundbreaking research

OHSU’s team helps set the standard for treating craniofacial conditions. We know research is an important way to advance and improve craniofacial care for children.

  • We study speech, language development and hearing outcomes for children with clefts. We look at the impact of treatments like ear tube placement, bone grafting and jaw surgery.
  • We are learning if communities where children are most at risk for clefts have access to complete care.
  • We are part of a national registry to study the results of craniosynostosis surgery.
  • We are part of an international project to learn how treatment impacts children with facial palsy.

Conditions we treat

We also treat craniofacial conditions such as:

  • Facial paralysis: One or both sides of the face can’t move. This can affect facial expressions, speech and eating. Facial paralysis may be present at birth or caused by an injury or infection in childhood.
  • Microtia: One or both external ears are missing, small, or not formed properly. In mild cases, microtia just affects how the ear looks. In severe cases, it may affect hearing. Children may need surgery at age 7 or 8 to reconstruct the ear.
  • Mandibular hypoplasia (micrognathia): An extremely small jaw on one or both sides makes it hard to eat or breathe. This may be a symptom of other conditions and often gets better as a child grows. It may require surgery.
  • Pierre Robin sequence (PRS): The lower jaw does not develop properly before birth, causing other conditions such as micrognathia. Some babies with PRS have trouble breathing and some have a cleft palate requiring surgery.
  • Stickler syndrome: Connective tissue doesn’t form properly, leading to problems with vision, hearing and joints. Children with Stickler syndrome often have facial differences such as small chins or noses. PRS is common in children with Stickler syndrome.
  • Treacher Collins syndrome: Facial features, like the cheekbones, jawbone, ears and eyelids, may be very small or have an unusual shape. Symptoms vary from mild to severe. The syndrome can cause vision problems, hearing loss and trouble breathing.
  • Van der Woude syndrome: This inherited condition may cause a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. Children may have mounds of tissue or pits near the center of the lower lip. Children with Van der Woude syndrome may also be missing some teeth.

Services we provide

Our program is the most comprehensive in the state. We offer:

  • Craniosynostosis treatment: Our surgeons are skilled at finding skull irregularities early, and offer the least invasive treatment to mold your child’s head shape.
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate care: We offer advanced surgical methods, and are the only Oregon hospital to offer therapy to reshape the nose and reduce the cleft before surgery. We also provide years of supportive follow-up care into early adulthood.
  • Other services: Our goal is to find the best treatment for your child and support your family throughout treatment. We offer:
    • Genetic testing to assess your family’s risk for craniofacial conditions
    • Help learning how to mold your child’s flattened head
    • Referrals and coordination with your child’s orthodontist
    • Assistance with speech as your child grows
    • Plastic surgery for facial reconstruction
    • Specialists to help with hearing loss
    • Psychological support for your child

For families

Call 503-346-0640 to:

  • Request an appointment
  • Seek a second opinion
  • Ask a question


Parking is free for patients and their visitors.

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital
700 S.W. Campus Drive
Portland, OR 97239
Map and directions

Find other locations across Oregon and in southwest Washington.

For referring providers

Refer your patient to OHSU Doernbecher.

Call 503-346-0644 to:

  • Seek provider-to-provider advice.
  • Request education about plagiocephaly or other conditions.

A forever smile

Seven-month-old Oliver in his car seat. He wears nose stents as he heals from cleft lip repair surgery.

Seven-month-old Oliver was born with cleft lip, and had surgery at Doernbecher to repair his lip and nose. Oliver’s mom, Jessica, shared his story.