Growing up can be hard, and it can be even tougher if you're born with a congenital defect.

But a doctor at Seattle Children's Hospital has developed a ground-breaking surgical technique to help kids with congenital defects lead more normal lives.

James was born with Apert syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause abnormalities in the formation of the head and other parts of the body. He also had a cleft palate, clubbed feet and fused fingers.

The traditional treatment includes major surgery that moves the facial bones out so that patients can breathe better, but it doesn't really change their appearance.

But Seattle Children's doctor Richard Hopper came up with a better approach that helped shape James' face to look and behave more like it should.

James is getting over his shyness, and his mom is getting used to the new look.

He just looks a lot different -- his face -- he looks a lot younger, James' mother said.

James will still need to have jaw surgery when he's 17, but for now he can just be a regular kid.

Dr. Hopper is now sharing his technique with other surgeons around the world.

Read Seattle Children's blog for more information about Apert syndrome and Dr. Hopper's treatment method.

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