What is Cranioplasty?

Cranioplasty is a type of cranial surgery performed to repair skull defects. These defects may be present from birth (congenital), or they may come from injuries or previous surgeries, such as craniectomy. Craniectomy removes bone flaps from the skull without reattaching them. This missing bone flap is a type of skull defect, which leaves the brain exposed and prone to damage. It can also cause headaches or affect brain functioning. Surgery to replace the skull flap or reconstruct the skull can fix cosmetic issues, improve protection of the brain, and reduce headaches.

To perform cranioplasty, your surgeon will shave and clean part of your head before making an incision in the scalp. With the defect exposed, your surgeon can remove and reshape part of the scalp or fill a hole left from a previous operation. The original skull flap may be reattached, or the hole will be replaced with a bone graft or a synthetic implant made from materials such as titanium or synthetic bone. The bone or synthetic graft will be attached to your skull with screws, discs, or plates.

After your surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for up to 7 days. Your doctor may place a drain in your scalp to remove built-up or excess fluid, and you will be monitored in case complications occur. Normal activity will be restricted initially but may be resumed within a few weeks of your procedure.

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