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Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Austin Smiles – The Austin Plastic Surgery Foundation is a nonprofit organization working to advance its mission of creating smiles and improving lives, focusing in Latin America and the Central Texas region. We provide cleft lip and palate repair surgery for patients in mission countries, comprehensive follow-up cleft care for these patients, and training for local doctors and nurses in their communities. Austin Smiles also provides local program support for all cleft lip/palate patients undergoing surgeries and treatment, especially in the Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

Because Everyone Deserves a Complete Smile

Untreated cleft lip/palate has many consequences including negative effects on speech, hearing, appearance, and physical and psychological well-being. Children can have problems with their ears and sinuses. Cleft can interfere with the development of the jaw with surgery often being needed to correctly align the jaw.

Oral clefts are among the most widely known and common craniofacial abnormalities. Approximately one in 700 children worldwide is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. And cleft does not discriminate – while there are identified causes in poor prenatal care, in many cases, factors causing a cleft abnormality cannot be identified.

 

 

Because many Latin American countries have limited access to adequate medical resources, and their residents lack sufficient income to afford necessary medical treatment, Austin Smiles has worked in these regions for over 30 years. We give people the access to day-to-day interactions without facial deformities – access that many of us might take for granted.

Working Locally

Austin Smiles collaborates with the Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, providing financial and program support for patients undergoing surgeries and treatment and their families. 

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Working Abroad

The United States has a long and important cultural history and relationship with Latin America. There are strong, long-established communities here of people from across Latin America, especially from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Because these countries also have high income disparity among their populations, Austin Smiles chooses to advance its mission here – providing access to care to those who couldn’t otherwise afford it. We also work closely with local doctors and nurses in the areas we visit, making follow-up trips and collaborating with medical personnel abroad to provide the best comprehensive cleft care and treatment.

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Partnering with UT

The University of Texas at Austin established the Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Speech-Language Pathology in 1997. This endowment allows graduate students in speech-language pathology at UT’s College of Communication to join Austin Smiles on medical mission trips. Selected UT students work with speech pathologists to design appropriate curriculum and exercises for children with cleft lip/palate and work closely with the family to train them in assisting the child. 

About Cleft Lip/Palate
What Happens on a Mission?