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Lesley Childs, M.D.
Lesley Childs, M.D.

Lesley Childs, M.D.

  • Otolaryngology
  • Professional Voice Care
  • Voice Disorders

Biography

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 Assistant Professor of Laryngology, Neurolaryngology, and Professional Voice. 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.”

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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 Assistant 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.”

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Education & Training
  • Fellowship - The New York Center for Voice & Swallow Disorders (2010-2011), Laryngology
  • Residency - Vanderbilt University Medical Center (2005-2010), Otolaryngology
  • Medical School - Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (2001-2005)
  • Undergraduate School - Yale University
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery (2005)
  • Texas Medical Association (2011)
  • Dallas Academy of Otolaryngology (2011)
  • American Choral Directors Association (2012)
  • Texas Music Educators Association (2015)
  • Pan-American Vocology Association, voting member (2015)
  • Texas Association of Otolaryngology (2011)
  • Society of University Otolaryngologists (2016)
  • American Broncho-Esophagological Association (ABEA), active member (2015)
  • Dallas County Medical Society (2011)
  • North Texas Voice Foundation (2011)
  • American Laryngological Association, post-graduate member (2011)
Books & Publications

Clinical Focus

  • Professional Voice Care
  • Voice Disorders
  • Larynx Related Voice Disorders
  • Swallowing Problems
  • Airway Conditions

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Q&A by Dr. Childs

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Otolaryngology Clinic

at West Campus Building 3 2001 Inwood Road, 6th and 7th Floor
Dallas, Texas 75390
214-645-8898 Directions Parking Info

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.

Voice Care

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.