Head & Neck Surgery
Head and Neck Cancer
What is Head and Neck Cancer?
Depending upon the location of the tumor, cancer surgery may result in significant deformities of the face, particularly if it involves the nose, lips, eyelids, and cheeks. Problems with eating, swallowing, speaking, and breathing may result from cancer treatment of the nose, mouth, and throat. The structural deformity will be obvious, in that it will alter the shape of the nose, lips, or other structures about the face. Functional disturbance will manifest as difficulty in breathing, chewing, swallowing, or problems of other structures about the face or neck.
Head and neck cancer, is most frequently, on the skin surface, and relatively simple surgical removal and closure is possible. If the tumor is larger, or involves the eye-orbit, ears, nasal or oral cavity or upper digestive tract, more extensive surgical reconstruction by specialized techniques may be necessary. Every effort is made to restore form as well as function.
What to expect during the Head and Neck Cancer procedure?
Small tumors can, often be closed by sewing the edges of the incision together. Larger defects may require skin grafts taken from other areas of the body. Alternatively, adjacent skin can often be shifted into position to fill the defect. Larger and deeper defects may require the transfer of muscle, bone, or skin flaps to close complex wounds of the nasal and oral passages, particularly when the cancer surgery has removed bone from the cheek or jaw. Microsurgery may be used to reconnect tiny blood vessels to provide adequate circulation to insure proper healing.
With large and complicated cancers, reconstructive surgery may be delayed until the pathologist can examine the tumor to make sure it has been completely removed. With some skin cancers, a dermatologist may remove the tumor and refer the patient to a plastic surgeon for reconstruction on another day. With complex tumors of the oral and nasal cavities, a two-team approach is often utilized, with one team responsible for removing the tumor, and the other dedicated to the reconstruction. This often shortens the length of the operation, since the reconstructive team can harvest the tissue from a different part of the body while the oncologic team is removing the tumor. Secondary reconstruction can be done on patients with longstanding deformities, or on those with residual deformity after their initial reconstructive procedure.
What to expect during the recovery process for the Head and Neck Cancer procedure?
In many cases, head and neck cancer removal will require additional wound care, after the surgery. Every effort will be made to treat your wound without significantly altering your appearance, but the primary goal is to effectively treat your cancer. In some cases, more than one procedure may be necessary to reconstruct the area where the cancer was removed.
To find out more about available treatments and procedures, request a consultation with Dr. Moulton-Barrett at one of his Bay Area offices. Board certified plastic surgeon Rex Moulton-Barrett, M.D., offers advanced care and procedures for Bay Area residents. He has offices in Alameda and Brentwood, CA.
2070 Clinton Ave, Alameda, CA 94501
1280 Central Blvd, Suite J-5, Brentwood, CA 94513
To schedule your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Rex Moulton-Barrett