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Empowering Survivors: The Life-Changing Journey of Cancer Reconstruction in Royal Oak, MI

When you think of ENT plastic surgery, your immediate thought is probably nose jobs. I mean, let's be honest -- if you want to change the shape of your nose, a surgeon specializing in the nose is the way to go.

But hold on a second!

What you may not know is that ENT surgeons routinely use their skills to help cancer patients with reconstructive surgery.

I bet you didn't know that, but now you do!

As a provider of ENT plastic surgery in Royal Oak Michigan, we strive to deliver the best outcome to our patients -- and that begins with the best information. That's why today, we're going to talk about the procedures used for head and neck cancer reconstructive surgery.

Head & Neck Cancer:

Head and neck cancer is a collective term for any cancer that affects the nose, throat, mouth, larynx, lips, nasal cavity, or salivary glands.

These cancers typically begin forming in the squamous cells that line the surfaces of the head and neck soft tissue. While they typically begin in the soft tissue, these cancers can metastasize to the bone, so it's important to catch them early.

So, how can doctors treat head and neck cancer?

There are a variety of head and neck cancer treatments available. Radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy drugs, targeted therapies, and surgical removal are all options for this collection of cancers.

These treatments may be used on their own, however, multiple treatments are often times used in conjunction with one another. For example, radiation and chemotherapy may be used in combination with surgical removal of cancerous tissues and structures.

ENT Specialist: Reconstructive Surgery to Restore Normalcy

Because surgical removal of cancerous portions of the head and neck can be needed for successful treatment, an ENT plastic surgeon is often required to help restore interior or exterior portions of a patient's head and neck area.

If you need head and neck reconstructive surgery, it's important to understand the kinds of procedures that you might need.

Don't worry -- our experience as a reconstructive ENT in Royal Oak MI has led us to successfully give cancer survivors as much normalcy as possible. The following procedures are how that's done.

1. Throat Cancer Reconstruction

There are two primary types of throat cancer reconstruction -- free flap reconstruction and local flap reconstruction.

  • First, let's talk about free flap reconstruction.

Free flap reconstruction involves taking tissue from an area of the body farther away from the treated area - somewhere like the intestine or arm muscle - and transplanting it to replace lost throat tissue.

The tissue may include muscle, bone, skin, nerves, or any combination of those. Along with the previously mentioned tissues, the procedure also requires the surgeon to transplant blood vessels to the throat for blood supply to the new tissue.

  • Next, let's talk about local flap reconstruction.

Local flap reconstruction surgery uses tissue taken from a nearby location which is then adjusted to cover the reconstructive area. The advantage of this procedure is that the tissue has its own blood supply.

The surgeon will partially detach a portion of muscle near the throat along with a piece of skin, then flip it over the affected area.

2. Nasal and Sinus Cancer Reconstruction

There are two primary types of nasal and sinus cancer reconstruction surgeries -- nose reconstruction/prosthetics and hard palate reconstruction.

  • First, let's take a look at nose reconstruction/prosthetics.

Nose reconstruction is an ENT plastic surgery that often involves tissue and bone or cartilage grafting to help reconstruct parts of the nose, ranging from small correction to partial reconstruction. In many ways, it's similar to rhinoplasty but on a much larger scale.

In some instances, it may be necessary to opt for a prosthesis instead of a reconstruction. This is particularly true if too much of the nose has had to be removed, leaving little to no foundation for the surgeons to work from.

  • Next, let's take a look at hard palate reconstruction.

The hard palate is the roof of the mouth, and it often has to be removed when oral cancer is treated. Reconstructing this portion of the mouth involves replacing it with a piece of muscle or tendon from another part of the body.

Custom-fitted hard palate prosthetics may also be sued to help restore and improve functions like speaking and swallowing.

Mouth and Throat Cancer Reconstruction

There are two primary types of mouth and throat cancer reconstruction surgeries -- skin graft reconstruction and free flap reconstruction.

  • First, let's take a look at skin graft reconstruction.

For minimal surgery to remove small tumors and repair small surgical areas, skin grafts are often all that is needed. Pieces of skin are removed from another area of the body like the thigh and then used to repair damaged areas of the mouth, throat, or neck.

  • Next, let's take a look at free flap reconstruction.

This form of reconstructive surgery is often used to repair larger damage in the mouth or jawbone. Muscle, bone, skin, or nerves may be transferred from another part of the body to the damaged area of the mouth to help reconstruct them. Oftentimes, oral surgeons will work in conjunction with ENT surgeons to reconstruct the area.

ENT Plastic Surgery: It's More Than Just 'Nose Jobs' and Botox

Although many cases of ENT plastic surgery are in fact elective, we ENT surgeons do far more than that. From nose reconstruction to throat and hard palate repair and reconstruction, ENT plastic surgery helps give people their lives back.

If you need our assistance, don't hesitate to ask!

As a family, obstructive sleep apnea, and surgical ENT in Royal Oak MI, we're proud that we can help our neighbors who have battled the greatest foe of all get their lives back. If you need help with sleep apnea, child ENT services, or reconstructive surgery, we're here to help.

Schedule a consultation with us by calling us at (248) 737-4030 -- we'll be happy to talk to you about your specific needs and goals.