Harry Salinas, Plastic Surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute, explains oral cancer starts at the lining of the mouth and as the tumor grows and progresses in stage, it starts to invade the nearby structures and often the jawbone is involved. "This would create a defect in the mandible, so there would be a bony defect that would need to be reconstructed. It would create a defect probably in the oral lining so there would be a soft tissue defect that needs to be reconstructed," he says.
There are things you need to discuss with your doctor before a surgery, such as your expected recovery time, how to manage pain or discomfort and any limitations to your daily routine. Miguel Angel Medina, Director of Microsurgery at Miami Cancer Institute, says they have a very aggressive multimodal pain control pathway, where they give their patients local anesthesia before they wake up with focus blocks to their ribs to prevent immediate pain when they wake up. They also limit post-operative narcotics and the side effects, because they want their patients up and active.
There are different types of plastic surgery depending on which cancer it is, such as endoscopic and flap surgery. Harry Salinas, Plastic Surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute, describes endoscopic surgery as a procedure assisted by cameras to do things through small ports, more like laparoscopic surgery. He also says with flap surgery he can move tissues around in the body to recreate a breast or fill in an effect in the nose after a skin cancer. There are other types of surgery techniques, like lase technology, skin grafts and tissue expansion.
Harry Salinas, Plastic Surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute, says supporting a cancer patient is a tough process. "They often come to our office right after they've been told that they have breast cancer and they need a mastectomy. The consultations tend to be very emotional and family support is so important, it is so nice when the patient shows up to the office with family members that are there to help them, to tell them everything will be okay". Miguel Angel Medina, Director of Microsurgery at the same institution, points out family is critical. "We have a large social service, support base recovery groups within the MCI community, post-operative rehabilitation groups, so they don't have to feel alone," he says.
Harry Salinas, Plastic Surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute, says having a reconstructive surgery after cancer depends on the type of cancer. "When you're talking about a neck tumor, you can't leave somebody with a large defect in their jaw, for example, because it would really impair their ability to feed themselves and to really function," he explains. He also points out the satisfaction when you have a breast reconstruction after the mastectomy and the subsequent treatment, the data shows that the satisfaction tends to be a little better when you do it delayed because they've lived without a breast and they see that dramatic change, for example.