Head and Neck Cancer Reconstruction

Tumors of the head and neck can be devastating, affecting both appearance and function. Dr. Alfaro performs head and neck cancer reconstruction to help preserve normal function and normal appearance.

The doctor may utilize a variety of techniques to remove the defect while preserving maximum tissue. Common techniques include excision with tissue sparing, or advanced methods in endoscopic surgery and laser assisted surgery. Candidates for head and neck cancer reconstruction include those affected by tumors, such as:

  • Lip defects
  • Skin defects
  • Tumors of the mouth
  • Tumors of the pharynx and esophagus

These defects are often very obvious, since they alter the appearance of the nose, lips or other facial structures. Patients may also experience difficulty breathing, swallowing or chewing. The doctor considers several factors when forming a surgical plan for reconstruction, including: tumor stage, tumor prognosis, patient age, patient sex, patient function, availability of donor sites, and more.

What to Expect During Head Neck Cancer Reconstruction

What is it? Removal of tumors from the head and neck, followed by reconstructive surgery to minimize changes in appearance and function
Inpatient / Outpatient Either, depending on complexity of the surgery
Surgery time: Varies depending on the operation performed
Recovery time: Recovery time varies depending on the surgery.

How it's Done

Your plastic surgeon can utilize a wide variety of procedures during this procedure. A general rule of reconstructive surgery is to perform the simplest and safest operation that will achieve a satisfactory outcome. Reconstructive surgery is often performed at the same time as tumor removal In other cases, it is delayed until the pathologist examines the tumor and ensures that it has been completely eradicated.

The following are some of the reconstructive techniques used in head neck cancer reconstruction:

  • Primary closure
  • Skin grafting (split or full thickness)
  • Composite grafts
  • Local flaps
  • Regional Pedicled Flaps
  • Free tissue transfer

Tumors of the head and neck may reside on the skin surface, which can often be treated with simple surgical removal and primary closure. For complex tumors affecting the ears, nasal cavity, oral cavity, or upper digestive tract, a treatment plan will be formulated by surgeons working together with a medical oncologist. The medical team will make every effort to preserve a normal function and appearance.

Recovery from Head Neck Cancer Reconstruction

Due to the wide variation in wound severity involved, there is no single list of expected aftercare procedures. For many patients, there will be at least one night in the hospital after reconstructive surgery. Others may be able to return home shortly after the procedure.

Scheduling Your Head and Neck Cancer Reconstruction in Tucson

If you are ready to learn more about head and neck cancer, we encourage you to call the office of Dr. Armando Alfaro in Tucson, AZ. Dr. Alfaro can answer your questions and discuss the details of this procedure. Call our office at 520-323-9720 to schedule a consultation.