Facial Tumor Overview
Many types of tumors can develop in the head and neck region, and the growth of these tumors may affect soft tissue and bones of the face. The shape of your face may look different after removing a facial tumor. Reconstructive surgery can help improve the function of your face and achieve the look you want.
Whether malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous), facial tumors may require some form of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Your surgeon may use different techniques depending on the size, location, and type of tumor. Facial reconstructive surgery may be needed to rebuild bone structure or soft tissue. In some cases, mouth and jaw repair may be needed to restore proper function. Facial cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers, facial fat grafting, or rhinoplasty can improve cosmetic appearance.
Planning and Recovery
What to Expect
If you discover a lump or suspicious growth on your face, neck or head, you should have it checked out by a doctor. Your doctor may decide to perform a biopsy by taking a small tissue sample and sending it to a pathologist for review. Biopsy results help doctors identify the best treatment plan.
Treating a malignant facial tumor may require surgical removal along with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The course of treatment is led by cancer specialists who consult with plastic and reconstructive surgeons on planning for facial reconstructive surgery.
For a benign facial tumor, surgical removal may be recommended if the tumor is pressing on a facial nerve or interfering with surrounding structures. If the tumor is slow-growing and you’re not experiencing any symptoms, surgery may not be necessary. However, patients often seek treatment for cosmetic reasons, even if the tumor poses no health threat.
Set up a consultation with a plastic and reconstructive surgeon to learn more about treatment options for facial tumors. He or she will discuss the risks and benefits of surgery and recommend next steps, whether it’s reconstructive surgery, a biopsy/lab test, or follow-up care.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Your procedure may be covered by insurance if it is deemed medically necessary. Please contact your insurance company to determine your coverage.
Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and avoid possible complications. You’ll be given special instructions to follow prior to your surgery.
You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the surgery and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:
- Allergies to tape, suture materials, and glues, blood products, topical preparations, or injected agents
- Anesthesia risks
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Change in skin sensation
- Injury to the blood vessels, nerves or tendons
- Pain, which may persist
- Poor healing of incisions
- Possibility of revisional surgery
- Skin contour irregularities
- Skin discoloration/swelling
- Unexpected swelling
- Unfavorable scarring
You may have gauze or bandages applied to your incisions following surgery. In addition, a thin tube may be placed under the skin to drain excess fluid or blood. A member of your healthcare team will provide specific directions about how to clean and care for the surgical site.
Recovery time depends on the level of correction needed and whether additional treatments were done at the same time. You may experience bruising and swelling of your face immediately following surgery, and this should fade away within a few days. Most people return to normal activities in one or two weeks, but recovery time may be longer for more complex cases.