Creating Smiles, Improving Lives
Why We’re Here
Austin Smiles – The Austin Plastic Surgery Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide sustainable surgical care to children born with cleft lip and cleft palate both in Central Texas and Latin America.
Changing the Stigma
We encourage volunteers and supporters of Austin Smiles to use person-first language when referring to cleft lip and palate. Person-first language (PFL), is a type of linguistic prescription that puts a person before a diagnosis, describing what a person “has” rather than asserting what a person “is”. We advise against using language like “deformity” or “birth-defect” which populates most medical and non-medical online avenues about having a cleft lip or cleft palate. Imagine living your whole life always having to explain why the words that people use are hurtful and offensive to you. Teachers, co-workers, friends, and family that support children with this condition need to know how the words and phrases they use can make a child feel less than others.
Use PFL language such as:
• Children born with a cleft lip or palate
• Children with this condition
• Children with a congenital disability
Treatment in the US
During the process of skeletal maturity, a child born with cleft lip/palate in the US could easily undergo 20 to 30 surgeries depending on severity. Surgeons close a cleft lip/palate in a series of operations that ideally start at three months old and often stretch into young adulthood. Early surgeries focus on mitigating or eliminating the associated fundamental eating, breathing and speech problems. Children born with this condition may need further dental care, palate revisions, jaw surgery, rhinoplasties or other secondary operations.
Treatment in Latin America
Around the world, many children with clefts will never receive the reconstructive surgery they need. That’s why so many of our medical volunteers devote their time to help these children have access to life-changing surgeries. Volunteers who experience these incredibly positive transformations first-hand are often compelled to donate their time, money, and/or resources to the cause.
Our vision is to create a sustainable system of care by which patients are cared for before, during, and after their surgeries into adulthood. Through our international partnerships, we ensure children born with cleft lip/palate receive all necessary services to optimize their opportunity to live fully productive lives.
Austin Smiles transforms the lives of over 300 children annually in Latin America with surgical & post-surgical care – including but not limited to, orthodontic, dental, ENT and speech services. Children served would otherwise have limited access to professional, no-cost surgeries.
About Cleft Lip and Palate
One in 700 children are born with a cleft lip/palate
Our Local Services
Austin Smiles local impact for children and families in Central Texas
Find useful and accurate information about Cleft Lip and Palate