- Fellowship - The New York Center for Voice & Swallow Disorders (2010-2011), Laryngology
- Residency - Vanderbilt University Medical Center (2005-2010), Otolaryngology
- Undergraduate School - Yale University
- Medical School - Vanderbilt University Medical Center (2001-2005)
Lesley Childs, M.D.
- Professional Voice Care
- Voice Disorders
Lesley French Childs, M.D., has sung all her life. Once, as a high school choir singer in Austin, she grew hoarse and went to an otolaryngologist. The doctor used a scope to look at her vocal cords, then described what he saw (mild inflammation, it turned out). Photos on his wall showed performers he’d taken care of.
“I thought, ‘That is what I want to do,’” Dr. Childs recalls, adding that she had wanted to be a doctor since early childhood. “It was the perfect marriage of my two passions.”
Dr. Childs attended Yale University and then Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where her classmates voted her the person they would most want as their own physician. During her residency in head and neck surgery at Vanderbilt, she won more awards for excellence. Dr. Childs then completed a specialty fellowship at the New York Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders, where she often took call for the opera.
In 2012, Dr. Childs returned to Texas, joining the faculty of UT Southwestern. She is Associate Professor of Laryngology, Neurolaryngology, and Professional Voice. Dr. Childs was recently appointed the Medical Director of the Clinical Center for Voice Care. Along with her colleague, Dr. Ted Mau, and four speech therapists, Dr. Childs cares for patients with vocal-fold disorders at the Clinical Center for Voice Care.
Dr. Childs hasn’t neglected her own singing. She has recorded songs for Walt Disney Records, playing characters such as Mulan and Sleeping Beauty. She sings with the professional choir Vox Humana and and continues to take voice lessons regularly.
Thanks to technological advances, Dr. Childs can now show her patients video of their own vocal folds. “It’s pretty spectacular to see their expression. ‘Wow, so that’s my instrument!’
“That’s one of the most rewarding things: to educate singers about their instrument and about caring for it and protecting it.”
In 2019 and 2020, Dr. Childs was named a Texas Monthly Super Doctor Rising Star.
Meet Dr. Childs
Voice Care Specialist
“Nodule” is a word that can strike fear into a singer. These benign vocal-fold growths can occur after overuse of the voice and, as a result, mar its pure, clear tone.
“It’s your only set of vocal folds – and unlike the flute or a guitar, you can’t trade it in or upgrade it 10 years down the road.”
Not to worry, says Lesley Childs, M.D., an Associate Professor of Laryngology, Neurolaryngology, and Professional Voice at UT Southwestern’s Clinical Center for Voice Care. “People think of nodules as a career-ending diagnosis, and it’s not,” she says. “The truth of the matter is, nodules are reversible with therapy.”
Nodules are just one of the problems that bring voice-dependent professionals to see the Center’s specialized laryngologists and therapists. Overuse of the voice can also, for example, cause polyps and cysts, while surgery and viruses can lead to vocal-fold paralysis. “I see vocal athletes,” says Dr. Childs. “Our speech therapists are physical therapists for the vocal folds.”
In addition to patient care, Dr. Childs contributes to her field, having written numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on laryngology, and she has spoken at meetings of laryngologists and musicians alike.
To diagnose voice problems, Dr. Childs uses state-of-the-art videostroboscopy, which shows freeze frames of the vocal folds in action. Treatments she offers include specialized voice therapy, microsurgery, Botox injections for spasmodic dysphonia, and laser surgery, many of which can be done in the office. “People are completely awake – they don’t have to undergo a general anesthetic, and they don’t have to have a driver, so they have much less downtime,” Dr. Childs says of in-office procedures.
But, as with nodules, many voice problems resolve with therapy alone. “Our mantra as laryngologists is to operate on the vocal cords as a last resort,” she says. “Even if the growth doesn’t go away with speech therapy, it will at least get smaller. That allows a much less invasive surgical procedure, with less risk of permanent hoarseness from scarring.”
- American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery (2005)
- Texas Medical Association (2011)
- Dallas Academy of Otolaryngology (2011)
- American Choral Directors Association (2012)
- North Texas Voice Foundation (2011)
- American Laryngological Association, post-graduate member (2011)
- Texas Association of Otolaryngology (2011)
- Pan-American Vocology Association, voting member (2015)
- Dallas County Medical Society (2011)
- Society of University Otolaryngologists (2016)
- American Broncho-Esophagological Association (ABEA), active member (2015)
- Texas Music Educators Association (2015)
- D Magazine Best Doctor 2020
- Texas Monthly Super Doctors, Rising Star 2020
- Texas Monthly Super Doctors, Rising Star 2019
Vocal Fold Lesion in Otolaryngology Clinical Case Studies: Oral Board Exam Review
Mau T, Childs LF (In press), Anadem Publishing, Inc.
Medical Management of Voice Disorders in Encyclopedia of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Childs LF (In press), CA, Sage
Transcricothyroid Membrane Vocal Fold Injection in Laryngeal Dissection and Surgery Guide
Rickert S, Childs L, Blitzer A (2013), Thieme Publishers
Vocal Fold Scar in Laryngology: A case-based approach
Childs LF, Mau T (In press), CA, Plural Publishing
Contributing author in Essays On Singing
Childs LF (In Press), Ohio, Inside View Press
Endoscopic OR-Based Injection Laryngoplasty in Laryngeal Dissection and Surgery Guide
Childs LF, Rickert S, Blitzer A (2013), Thieme Publishers
Trigeminal Neuralgia in Botulinum Neurotoxin Management of Head and Neck Disorders
Blitzer A, Childs LF, Alexander R (2012), Thieme Publishers
Rhinitis in Botulinum Neurotoxin Management of Head and Neck Disorders
Blitzer A, Guss J, Childs LF (2012), Thieme Publishers
Movement Disorder Emergencies of the Upper Aerodigestive Tract in Movement Disorder Emergencies
Childs L., Rickert S., Bentsianov B., Chitkara A., Cultrara A., Blitzer A. (2013), Totowa, NJ, Humana Press
Spasmodic Dysphonia in Otolaryngology Clinical Case Studies: Oral Board Exam Review
Childs LF, Mau T (In press), Anadem Publishing, Inc.
Correction of Facial Asymmetry in Botulinum Toxins: Cosmetic and Clinical Applications
Rickert SM, Childs LF, Blitzer A (2017), UK, Oxford
Brothers, Sing On! Conducting the Tenor-Bass Choir
Childs LF (contributing author) (2014), Wisconsin, Hal Leonard Corporation
Hemifacial Spasm and Facial Synkinesis in Botulinum Neurotoxin Management of Head and Neck Disorders
Childs LF, Novakovic D, Gibbs S (2012), Thieme Publishers
- Vocal Fold Lesion in Otolaryngology Clinical Case Studies: Oral Board Exam Review
An estimate of the number of mastoidectomy procedures performed annually in the United States.
French LC, Dietrich MS, Labadie RF Ear, nose, & throat journal 2008 May 87 5 267-70
Tracheotomy in the first year of life: outcomes in term infants, the Vanderbilt experience.
Wootten CT, French LC, Thomas RG, Neblett WW, Werkhaven JA, Cofer SA Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 2006 Mar 134 3 365-9
Model of evoked rabbit phonation.
Ge PJ, French LC, Ohno T, Zealear DL, Rousseau B The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology 2009 Jan 118 1 51-5
Extracellular matrix gene expression after vocal fold injury in a rabbit model.
Rousseau B, Ge PJ, Ohno T, French LC, Thibeault SL The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology 2008 Aug 117 8 598-603
Laryngeal electromyography for prognosis of vocal fold palsy: a meta-analysis.
Rickert SM, Childs LF, Carey BT, Murry T, Sulica L The Laryngoscope 2012 Jan 122 1 158-61
Experimentally induced phonation increases matrix metalloproteinase-1 gene expression in normal rabbit vocal fold.
Rousseau B, Ge P, French LC, Zealear DL, Thibeault SL, Ossoff RH Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 2008 Jan 138 1 62-8
Laryngeal manifestations of relapsing polychondritis and a novel treatment option.
Childs LF, Rickert S, Wengerman OC, Lebovics R, Blitzer A Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation 2012 Sep 26 5 587-9
Effect of hepatocyte growth factor on gene expression of extracellular matrix during wound healing of the injured rat vocal fold.
Ohno T, French LC, Hirano S, Ossoff RH, Rousseau B The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology 2008 Sep 117 9 696-702
Tracheotomy in the preschool population: indications and outcomes.
French LC, Wootten CT, Thomas RG, Neblett WW, Werkhaven JA, Cofer SA Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 2007 Aug 137 2 280-3
Patient perceptions of factors leading to spasmodic dysphonia: a combined clinical experience of 350 patients.
Childs L, Rickert S, Murry T, Blitzer A, Sulica L The Laryngoscope 2011 Oct 121 10 2195-8
The Effect of Stretch-and-Flow Voice Therapy on Measures of Vocal Function and Handicap.
Watts CR, Diviney SS, Hamilton A, Toles L, Childs L, Mau T Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation 2014 Oct
Relationship between patient-perceived vocal handicap and clinician-rated level of vocal dysfunction.
Childs LF, Bielinski C, Toles L, Hamilton A, Deane J, Mau T The Laryngoscope 2014 Aug
A randomized controlled trial of stretch-and-flow voice therapy for muscle tension dysphonia.
Watts CR, Hamilton A, Toles L, Childs L, Mau T The Laryngoscope 2015 Jun 125 6 1420-5
The natural history of recoverable vocal fold paralysis: Implications for kinetics of reinnervation.
Mau T, Pan HM, Childs LF The Laryngoscope 2017 Jun
Congenital rhabdomyosarcoma of the tongue: a case report and review of the literature.
Childs LF, Goudy SL International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology Extra 2010 5 126-128
The initial evaluation and management of a professional voice user with new voice complaints.
Childs LF, Hamilton AL. Current Otorhinolaryngology Reports 2016 183 4
- An estimate of the number of mastoidectomy procedures performed annually in the United States.
- Professional Voice Care
- Voice Disorders
- Larynx Related Voice Disorders
- Swallowing Problems
- Airway Conditions
Q&A by Dr. Childs
Articles by Dr. Childs
Arts and Medicine
On “Ultimate Living,” Lesley Childs, M.D., a laryngologist at UT Southwestern and a classically trained soprano who has recorded songs for Walt Disney Records, talks about combining her love for the arts and medicine.
Dr. Childs and the Voice Care team work closely with singers and professional voice users to ensure the maintenance of vocal health and to carefully diagnose and treat possible laryngeal pathology. But others may be in need of our services, too—for example, those individuals who struggle with hoarseness and those with swallowing and airway disorders.