About head and neck reconstructive surgery
Vital structures in your head and neck, including the tongue, jaw and important nerves, lie close together. Even with leading care techniques, preserving healthy tissue can be challenging when cancer affects these areas. In some cases, small changes to this tissue can have a big impact on appearance or function.
Head and neck reconstructive surgery helps restore function. Highly skilled surgeons use a variety of techniques to restore visible areas of your head and face. Surgery can support or rebuild your ability to breathe and swallow.
You may also need head and neck reconstructive surgery if you have skin cancer. Some cancers require removing skin or deeper tissue on the face, neck or scalp. Our surgeons repair these areas after cancer treatment is complete. Read more about our skin cancer program.
Types of head and neck reconstructive surgery
There are many types of head and neck reconstructive surgery. Your surgeons will recommend a specific approach based on the cancer’s size and location and your treatment plan.
Types of head and neck reconstructive surgery include:
- Bone reconstruction: Creating new jaw or other facial bones using bone from other areas of your body
- Dental implants: Customized implants to replace missing or removed teeth
- Facial nerve repair: Treating nerve damage that can lead to drooping features or an inability to move parts of your face
- Prosthetics: Replacing structures, including the eyes, ears or the roof of the mouth, with human-made devices
- Soft tissue reconstruction: Repairing or replacing structures such as the lips, tongue or inside of your cheek with tissue from other areas of the body
Why choose us for head and neck reconstructive surgery?
Highlights of our program include:
- Expertise: Our team includes surgeons who have advanced training through fellowships in head and neck reconstruction. We also work closely with skilled eye and plastic surgeons whenever necessary.
- Complete care: Our reconstruction experts are an important part of the head and neck cancer team you already know and trust. With a team-based approach, we often remove cancer and perform reconstruction during the same procedure.
- Precise treatments: We frequently use high-resolution 3D imaging to help plan reconstructive surgeries. This high-quality imaging and our surgical expertise help us perform precise reconstructive procedures.
- Coordination: Our head and neck surgeons work with other specialists to perform reconstruction for other cancer types, including skin cancer. We all work together, so you receive timely care. Find out more about our skin cancer program.
Head and neck reconstructive surgery: What to expect
We take these steps to tailor therapies and perform a safe procedure:
- Imaging and planning: If cancer treatment may require reconstruction, we discuss it with you early in the care process. We take imaging studies to help our team plan the procedure.
- Discussion: After developing a plan, we discuss the types of reconstruction you need and the steps we are taking to tailor the procedure to your needs. You have the opportunity to ask questions and share your care preferences with us.
- Coordinating postsurgical therapies: You may need speech therapy to adjust to changes, such as repairs to your jaw or tongue, that make it difficult to speak or swallow. Find out more about speech therapy during cancer treatment.