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Facial paralysis after parotid surgery

Patients can undergo surgery for tumors or conditions of their parotid gland, a salivary gland located in the cheek.  Sometimes these are malignant conditions, in which to remove the entire tumor, a segment of the facial nerve or the entire nerve must be removed. In these cases, there are options for reconstructing the facial nerve, either during the same operation, or in a delayed manner after the tumor is more fully treated. In other cases, benign disease is removed, and there is either inadvertent, or unexpected facial nerve injury. In these cases, much can be done to repair or restore continuity of the nerve, and using a team approach that involves both tumor surgeons and nerve surgeons usually will yield the best long-term outcome. In certain situations, where patients have facial weakness and then it is discovered that they have a parotid tumor, the likelihood that the tumor has cancer cells is much higher than if they have normal facial function preoperatively.  Every single parotid tumor case is somewhat different, and individualized, tailored management is absolutely essential.  It is extremely common for patients to require a head and neck surgeon, as well as sometimes an otologist (ear surgeon), and a facial nerve surgeon (Facial Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon or Plastic Surgeon) all during the same operation. When tumors are located in an area such as the parotid gland, often a multidisciplinary team can offer better care than a single surgeon.

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