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Facial paralysis after head and neck surgery

Patients experiencing cancer in the head and neck region often require surgery for cure. Sometimes, to perform surgery that yields the highest likelihood of cure, a segment of the facial nerve or the entire nerve is intentionally removed along with the cancer.  When this is the case, head and neck cancer surgeons must work closely with facial reanimation surgeons to ensure that the facial weakness is addressed in a timely manner. Taking care of the facial weakness sometimes involves cable grafting the facial nerve with a piece of nerve from someplace else in the body, or performing a re-innervation procedure where a different nerve is routed into the stump of the facial nerve.  Commonly, static support is introduced into the face at the time of the cancer operation so that patients do not experience complete flaccid facial paralysis when they wake up. Care is absolutely individualized to each patient, and is often dictated by patient preferences, overall medical status, and the potential need for radiation or chemotherapy.

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