A person who has had a trauma or major medical treatment to their face, mouth, or throat may have an altered look. They may also have issues speaking, chewing, and swallowing.
Microvascular reconstructive surgery can fix these issues. Using the person's own tissue, this approach can fix mouth, tongue, jaw, or cheek problems.
The UPMC Eye and Ear Institute team works together to create the most natural look and the best day-to-day function.
To make an appointment, call 412-647-2100, Option 2.
We're one of the few centers in North America to perform more than 150 of these complex surgeries each year.
Using 3D technology, we precisely plan each surgery to reduce operating time and help promote the best outcomes.
In microvascular reconstructive surgery, the surgeon:
Because the transplanted tissue is your own, the body doesn't reject it.
We use this surgery to treat the following head and neck problems:
Cancers can destroy healthy tissue.
When a surgeon removes cancer, this can leave a gap or hole where you would normally have healthy tissue.
A reconstructive surgery team can rebuild many tissue types and help restore function.
Sometimes, tumors spread to the bones of the face. In this case, surgeons also need to remove part of the upper or lower jawbone. The reconstructive surgical team will rebuild the bone.
In reconstructive surgery, the surgeon uses a person's tissue and, if needed, bone. This surgery often happens right after removing cancer or a benign tumor.
Before surgery, the team will:
If there's more than one option, they will discuss the pros and cons of each.
The team may use 3D modeling to plan your surgery.
On the day of the surgery, your care team will:
Most people are in the hospital for a week to 10 days. This lets the health care team watch for issues after surgery, like an infection.
Microvascular reconstructive surgery uses many techniques and approaches to get the best result. That includes removing flaps of skin, muscle, and sometimes bone from various parts of the body.
For an ALT flap, the surgeon:
The surgical team may choose a fibular flap when they need to rebuild the jawbone.
For this technique, the team:
The fibula is not critical for walking or leg movement.
Over time and with therapy, you can walk, run, and play sports without a full fibula.
For a forearm flap, the surgeon will:
A scapular flap is an alternative option to the fibular flap for surgery that needs bone and tissue.
For a scapular flap, the surgeon will:
People often have weakness in the shoulder after this surgery. But it usually gets better after about six weeks of physical therapy.
After your surgery, the nurse will bandage and clean the flap site as you heal in the hospital.
They will teach you how to clean and wrap the flap donor site at home. Following their instructions for caring for the wound is vital.
You may need therapy to ensure optimal arm, hand, shoulder, or leg and foot use. By starting this early and doing all of the suggested exercises, you can greatly increase your chance of a full recovery.
There are many benefits, such as:
Microvascular reconstructive surgeries are complex. This means it takes longer to recover.
You'll be in the hospital for a week to 10 days so we can watch for and treat any complications.
Risks of microvascular surgery include: