A 10-year-old Spring Lake girl, whose nose was eaten off by a raccoon when she was was 3 and a half months, is back in Royal Oak today for a second round facial reconstruction surgery at Beaumont Hospital.
Charlotte Ponce is a trooper, according to her mother Sharon Ponce. The young girl is doing well since Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate, of Beaumont's Craniofacial Clinic, completed the first stage of Charlotte’s nose reconstruction in August. In the first procedure Chaiyasate and his surgical team took tissue with a blood supply from Charlotte’s forearm to create a lining for her new nose.
“She’s doing good,” Sharon said. “She thinks she can do anything.”
Sharon said certain initial restrictions on her daughter, such as bike riding and swimming, have been lifted. Charlotte is benefiting from being tutored by a relative during the week and has regular play dates with the Ponces’ 6-year-old granddaughter.
Chaiyasate said Thursday morning he is very happy with his patient's progress and Ponces seem to have only minor concerns.
“She has been having a hard time sleeping,” Sharon said. “I think she has some anxiety issues over what is happening to her, but when she looks at herself, I think she likes what she sees.”
Having one long surgery under their belt helps in some ways, because the family knows what to expect, Sharon said, but it doesn’t totally ease the worry over today’s anticipated 4-hour procedure.
Support from the community comforts the family and is appreciated, Sharon said. They have received thousands of notes from people across Michigan and the country. A women’s sewing club made Charlotte a quilt, which she brought to the hospital, and relatives gave her bedroom a makeover during her last stay at Beaumont.
“I think she likes the attention,” Sharon said.
“It shows that people care,” Charlotte added.
Today’s surgery involves taking skin from the girl's forehead and pulling it down over the nose lining that was constructed during the first procedure. Chaiyasate will also build a structural support for Charlotte’s nose using her ribs.
Chaiyasate said what he does today may look disturbing to people, but after the next procedure, Charlotte's nose will begin to take shape. He expects her nose to begin to look normal by Christmas, he said.
Over the next two years, the surgical team lead by Chaiyasate, will reconstruct her lip and ear, too.