Choosing a Surgeon
Choosing a surgeon to treat your medical condition is an important decision that can significantly impact the outcome and success of your procedure. While surgeons may be fully licensed and certified to perform your procedure, this does not ensure their skill level and experience in performing your individual procedure. Effective results will be best achieved by a surgeon who is comfortable with this type of procedure and has proven his/her skills through previous procedures.
Below are some mistakes many patients make when seeking a surgeon for their parotid tumor.
Two Most Common Mistakes…
1. Not getting a second opinion.
Although parotid tumors are not considered rare, they are not common. Most physicians who are qualified to treat parotid tumors see only 0-4 patients a year. This makes it difficult for most doctors to honestly say they are extremely comfortable operating on these tumors.
At the Osborne Head and Neck Institute, we have developed a reputation for treating parotid tumors and are a referral source for doctors who wish to refer on these difficult cases. We perform 3-4 cases a week, many of which are revision surgeries on patients who have recurrent tumors and have had previous parotid surgery.
Many of our patients have already had a surgery and are unhappy with their appearance after the procedure. We also specialize in reconstructing deformities after parotid surgery. Non-surgical techniques can often be used to improve the patient’s appearance. This experience makes us extremely comfortable in managing your case.
2. Not appreciating the risks of facial paralysis, frey’s syndrome, and facial deformities associated with the surgery.
Facial paralysis and deformity are physically and emotionally scarring complications that can last a lifetime. The best way to avoid lifelong frey’s syndrome and facial asymmetry is to have the most experienced surgeons perform your procedure. Parotidectomy is not a commonly performed procedure for most physicians. Surgeons with less experience may also be apprehensive using smaller facial incisions and performing reconstruction to the face after tumor removal because of the increased risk of injury to the facial nerve associated with doctors who perform few surgeries. What about facial nerve monitors? Facial nerve monitors are used to help localize the nerves position, but it does not dissect the tumor away from the facial nerve. Many surgeons see facial nerve paralysis occur while using facial nerve monitors. Facial nerve monitors do not make up for inexperience.
You should always:
- Find out specifically how many procedures your doctor has performed.
- Ask to see before and after pictures of his/her patients.
The pictures should not only show how well the patients have healed but also how well the patients’ faces move. If the doctor can not show you pictures, they may not perform many of these procedures.
At the Institute, Dr. Osborne and Dr. Hamilton perform all of your surgeries, meaning that a head and neck oncologist performs your tumor removal and a facial plastic surgeon performs your wound closure and reconstruction. No residents, physician assistants, or medical students perform any part of your procedure, which is commonplace at many teaching hospitals and universities.