Microvascular surgery involves reconstructing complex defects of the head and neck after cancer removal, severe trauma, or facial paralysis. These highly specialized procedures involve using tissue from other sites in the body along with its blood supply to reconstruct missing tissue in the head and neck. Blood vessels from the donor tissue are hooked up to blood vessels in the neck. The Department of Otolaryngology now has two fellowship-trained microvascular surgeons, Dr. Jessyka Lighthall and Dr. Neerav Goyal, to improve the patient appearance, optimize function in regards to speech and swallowing, and improve the quality of life.
It is an amazing experience to be able to return my patients to smiling, speaking, swallowing, and doing many of their usual daily activities after surgical treatment for head and neck cancer. My goal is to help bring back the form and function of the face after these surgeries and help patients return to a full life using microvascular or 'free flap' reconstruction.
- Cutaneous malignancies of the head and neck (skin cancer)
- Facial paralysis
- Facial defects
- Hypopharyngeal cancer (throat and swallowing passage cancer)
- Jaw defects
- Laryngeal cancer (voice box)
- Oral cancer (lip, mouth, tongue, palate)
- Oropharyngeal cancer (tonsil, tongue base, soft palate)
- Salivary gland tumors
Cancer treatments may include resection (removal) of a large cancer in the head and neck. Many times, due to the size of the defect, tissue needs to be brought in from another source (such as the leg, back, or arm) with its own blood supply to rebuild the resected tissue. Studies have shown that this improves quality of life for patients and assists in improve swallowing and speech outcomes.
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