Why Choose Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic's Center for Facial Reconstruction and Facial Nerve Disorders is committed to evaluating and managing patients with complex facial reconstructive needs. This Center provides a unique multidisciplinary approach which brings together renowned experts from multiple medical specialties. This combined perspective and expertise provides the highest level of facial and head and neck reconstruction. Furthermore, our team approach eliminates confusion about what specialist to see for a consultation.
The Center’s collaborative effort combines the expertise of multiple subspecialists, all dedicated to our patients’ surgical needs and functional recovery, including:
- Facial plastic and microvascular surgery
- Plastic surgery and Dermatologic (Mohs) Surgery
- Head and Neck Cancer Surgery
- Neurosurgery and Neurology
- Head and neck radiation oncology and Medical oncology
- Oculoplastic surgery
- Oral surgery and Maxillofacial prosthodontics
- Physical therapy and Speech therapy
- Patient's Ability to Speak, Eat and Chew Is Restored After Cancer Treatment
- Surgical Collaboration Benefits Skins Cancer Patient
- Surgical Treatment of Benign Tumor Restores Patient's Appearance and Quality of Life
- Surfer Returns to the Ocean after Near Total Nasal Reconstruction
- College Student is Back to the Books after Palate Reconstruction
- Groundbreaking Surgery Rebuilds Man's Jaw after Radiation Damage
Head and Neck Cancer Reconstruction
Our experts specialize in reconstructing areas of the head and neck that are afflicted with cancer in order to provide both normal appearance and optimal function.
Skin Cancer Reconstruction
Using the combined expertise of dermatologic, cancer and reconstructive surgeons, we can address the multiple challenges presented by large and/or recurrent skin cancers of the face and head.
Cranial and Skull Base Reconstruction
When tumor removal will affect function of facial nerves or appearance of the head or face, we work to preserve or restore the individual’s facial appearance and function to as near to normal as possible.
Facial Reanimation and Management of Facial Nerve Disorders
Patients with facial movement disorders — the most common causes of which include Bell’s palsy, brain surgery and parotid gland surgery — benefit from our team’s high level of expertise.
Facial Reconstruction Following Trauma
Our surgeons are experienced with primary and revision reconstruction following severe injury to the face, head or neck.
Pediatric and Developmental Facial Deformities and Tumors
Our experienced and skilled surgeons work to achieve durable cancer control and the best cosmetic and functional outcomes for adults and children with rare and difficult pediatric facial tumors and deformities.
Functional Rehabilitation and Management of Facial Pain Disorders
When patients experience facial and neck movement dysfunction or chronic pain, our team works together to return patients to a normal and pain-free life.
Oromaxillofacial and Prosthodontic Reconstruction
Our experts combine efforts to optimize appearance and dental/oral function for patients diagnosed with a jaw tumor or who have facial deformity following trauma or previous surgery.
- Peter Ciolek, MD
- Michael Fritz, MD
- Dane Genther, MD
- Raffi Gurunian, MD
- Brandon Hopkins, MD
- Jamie Ku, MD
- Eric Lamarre, MD
- Brandon Prendes, MD
- Graham Schwarz, MD
Head and Neck Oncologic Surgeons
- Brian Burkey, MD
- Jamie Ku, MD
- Eric Lamarre, MD
- Robert Lorenz, MD
- Brandon Prendes, MD
- Joseph Scharpf, MD
- Salvatore Esposito, DMD
- Elizabeta Evtimovska, DDS
Treatments & Procedures
Mandibular (Jaw) Reconstruction
Destruction or loss of a portion of the lower jaw (mandible) most commonly occurs as a result of tumor removal. However, it may also be due to damage from prior radiation treatment, necrosis (localized tissue death) of the jaw bone resulting from medicines for osteoporosis, congenital deformities, or trauma.
In the most common scenario, a portion of the jaw is taken out for the removal of a cancerous tumor. In these cases, our dedicated reconstruction team replaces the missing portion of the jaw with a transplant from elsewhere in the patient’s body. This is done during the same surgery as the tumor removal, and requires the kind of coordinated effort between the cancer and reconstructive team in which our center excels. The result is often a near-perfect match to the patient’s pre-surgical jaw shape and awell-healed neck scar.
Following recovery from these complex tissue transfers (commonly referred to as “microvascular free flaps”), patients are reevaluated by our prosthodontics and dentistry specialists – who they have typically met prior to surgery – and partial dentures or dental implants can be fitted from pre-surgical dental impressions.
For patients who have more extensive jaw and tooth loss from tumor removal surgeries, our team is experienced with pre-fabricated plates, created from three dimensional models of the patient’s own jaw. This can allow for more extensive implantation of dental implant posts at the time of the tumor removal and jaw reconstruction; the actual prosthetic teeth are placed onto the implanted posts after postoperative healing has occurred.
The expert ability of our reconstructive surgeons to adapt bone from the leg or shoulder blade to recreate the portion of the jaw that has been removed, makes the need for these computer modeled plates infrequent. However, the experience of our team with this cutting-edge technology provides assurance that, as these technologies improve, we will be at the forefront of applying them in appropriately selected patients.
Nasal deformities may be the result of skin cancer, Mohs surgery, trauma, autoimmune disease, or congenital malformations. As the nose is the centerpiece of the face, any deformity or defect can have profound psychosocial and functional consequences.
Our team is trained to manage the entire spectrum of nasal deformities, with the principle goal of restoring aesthetic form and function to the nose. We treat everything from small defects as a result of skin cancer removal to total nasal deformities due to large and invasive cancers. Our specialists are considered leaders in this field and have pioneered techniques in nasal reconstructive surgery.
Orbitomaxillary Reconstruction (cheek, palate and eye socket)
Arguably, one of the most critical and difficult areas of the face to reconstruct is the orbitomaxillary region. This includes the roof of the mouth (hard palate), the cheekbone (maxilla), and the bones surrounding and supporting the eye (orbit).
Loss of the structure may occur for a variety of reasons. These include oral tumors, sinus tumors, skin cancers that invade deeply from the cheek, or massive trauma to the central face. The three-dimensional nature of these bones and the surrounding tissue – as well as their function in separation of the mouth from the nose and sinus, support of the eye for functions of vision, and the overall importance of the appearance of the face – make this a crucial and challenging area to rebuild.
This is an area where our team particularly excels. Our patients benefit from individualized treatment, which often includes advances and techniques that were designed here at Cleveland Clinic.
Reconstruction following parotid gland surgery
The management of parotid tumors is primarily surgical. This involves removal of a portion of or the entirety of the affected parotid gland (one of the major salivary glands). Some parotid tumors may also involve the facial nerve, the nerve responsible for movement of the face.
Without reconstruction following removal of the tumor, patients may, in some instances, be left with disfiguring facial asymmetry. Furthermore, if the tumor involves the facial nerve, patients may suffer from a postoperative facial paralysis.
Our surgeons offer comprehensive management of parotid tumors. This often entails a two-team approach between our cancer and reconstructive surgeons. Through a variety of techniques, our methods minimize potential scarring, facial contour deformities, and facial nerve paralysis.
Our reconstructive approach is tailored to the needs of each individual patient and our team of specialists will collaborate to optimize the outcome and results.
Advanced/recurrent skin cancers
Large and/or recurrent skin cancers of the face and head present multiple challenges for patients and surgeons. First, removing the cancer with the best chance of permanent cure requires full surgical margin clearance and coordination of additional care (eg radiation therapy) as needed. Additionally, large skin and soft tissue defects created by removal of the tumor require complex and often multi-stage reconstruction to achieve an acceptable appearance.
It is well established that dermatologic surgeons using Mohs margin techniques provide the best chance for control of skin cancers. This method allows for confident reading of 100% of the tissue edges surrounding the tumor to ensure full removal. However, at most hospitals, coordination of this technical tissue read large cancer removal /reconstruction under anesthesia is not logistically possible. As a result, many larger cancers receive less reliable oncologic management. At Cleveland Clinic, we have an established coordinated effort which combines the expertise of dermatologic and cancer surgeons with reconstructive surgeons. This allows for the best tumor removal and chance of cure and simultaneous facial reconstruction under one anesthesia.
Facial paralysis and facial nerve disorders
Facial paralysis can be a devastating development with profound functional and social implications. Treatment methods can range from noninvasive physical therapy and Botox injections to major free innervated muscle transfers to restore a smile. We have several reconstructive surgeons with extensive training and experience in managing paralysis and facial weakness. If paralysis is caused by tumor or vascular compression, head and neck oncologic surgeons, neuro-otologists and neurosurgeons can care for the root problems, while our reconstructive team provides simultaneous nerve repair and further reconstruction when indicated. Our surgeons have developed reconstructive algorithms and have pioneered new techniques to maintain facial contour symmetry, optimize nerve restoration through grafting and provide dynamic facial motion when lost.
Physical therapy plays a major role in achieving optimal recovery after most types of facial paralysis. Our team, which includes experts in sports rehabilitation and muscle recovery, guides individuals through this process. As recovery from facial nerve injury progresses, we often combine non-invasive techniques, such as Botox injections, with physical therapy to achieve the best outcome possible.
Post-traumatic facial deformities
Significant facial deformities following trauma, such as severe motor vehicle accidents or gunshot injuries, can present some of the most challenging reconstructions that are encountered. Many individuals have undergone multiple and often major operations to achieve some return to normalcy, however, in severe injuries, acceptable return of facial appearance and function may not be achieved. Our specialists have extensive experience with primary and revision facial and head and neck reconstruction in these settings, and can often bring new ideas and techniques to push severely injured patients closer to normalcy. Profound facial injuries arguably present the most difficult challenges to reconstructive surgeons, and it is quite rare that a perfect result can be achieved with one or even a few operations. With this knowledge, a stepwise approach of restoring the facial structure, then function and then form (appearance) is often required.
Cleveland Clinic Center for Facial Reconstruction and Facial Nerve Disorders offers consultations at Cleveland Clinic Main Campus.
After you call to arrange an initial appointment with our team, one of our providers will reach out to you to perform a pre-visit intake. Please make arrangements to have copies of prior imaging, imaging reports, operative notes, laboratory studies, pathology reports, and consult notes available that you would like us to review prior to your appointment.
You can now stay connected to your healthcare team through virtual visits, using your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Why go virtual? It's an easy, convenient and secure way to see your provider face-to-face without having to leave home. This saves you travel time, parking fees and time spent in the waiting room — and you can also have a loved one or caregiver join you. If appropriate, you can also get a prescription sent to the pharmacy of your choice.
Many insurance companies cover the cost of virtual visits, so check with your insurance company ahead of time. Interested in getting started? Call your provider to find out what virtual visit options are available.
MyConsult Online Medical Second Opinion
MyConsult Online Medical Second Opinion - a secure online service providing remote medical second opinions.
A secure online tool connecting patients to their own health information from the privacy of their homes.
The MyChart Caregiver service, an optional feature in MyChart, allows you to view family members' records. When clicking on a particular name, you will access that family member's MyChart account.
Whether you have caregiver access over one family member or several, you can view this list in MyChart under "My Family’s Record."
For Medical Professionals
DrConnect: Online Tool for Referring Physicians
DrConnect is a complimentary online tool for referring physicians that offers secure access to their patients' treatment progress at Cleveland Clinic.
- Learn more about DrConnect
This site for physicians and healthcare professionals offers articles about Cleveland Clinic’s latest research insights, innovations, treatment trends and more.
- Center Provides Hope for Patients With Facial Deformity and Paralysis
- Case Study: Young Patient Undergoes 10-Hour Palate Reconstruction to Remove Tennis Ball-Sized Mass
- Anterolateral Thigh Fascia Lata Rescue Flap: A New Approach in the Battle Against Osteoradionecrosis
- Setting a New Standard for Complex Palate Repair
- Shortened Hospital Stays and Lower Morbidity in Free Tissue Transfer
- The Layered Fibula Osteocutaneous Flap Sets New Standard For Advanced Maxillary Cancers
- Free Anterolateral Thigh Fascia Lata Flaps: A Game Changer in Nasal Reconstruction
- Options for Reconstructive Techniques in Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery
- Consider Different Free Flap Donor Sites for Head and Neck Reconstruction
Through this combined center, patients can feel confident that we are working together to ensure that they receive the best possible and most appropriate care.
Michael Fritz, MD
Section Head, Facial Plastic and
Head & Neck Institute
Raffi Gurunian, MD
Staff, Department of Plastic Surgery
Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic
Lerner College of Medicine,
Case Western Reserve University
Emad Estemalik, MD
Section Head, Headache
and Facial Pain,
Center for Neurological Restoration
Shlomo Koyfman, MD
Staff, Department of Radiation Oncology
Eric Lamarre, MD
Associate Staff, Head & Neck Institute
Pablo Recinos, MD
Section Head, Skull Base Surgery
Allison Vidimos, RPh, MD
Chairman, Department of Dermatology;
Mohs Surgery and Reconstruction
Richard Kring, PT, PhD
Director of Clinical Research
Rehabilitation & Sports Therapy
Research & Innovations
An important mission of the Center for Facial Reconstruction and Facial Nerve Disorders is developing surgical and clinical advances through our multidisciplinary research efforts. Our team of experts are dedicated to new research findings that will lead to improved and advanced surgical techniques and outcomes for our facial reconstructive patients.
Areas of major clinical research include:
- Novel surgical techniques for early intervention for “rescue” of osteoradionecrosis.
- Shorter length of hospitalizations.
- Minimal access approaches for revascularization.
- Advances in orbital palatomaxillary reconstruction (cheek, palate and eye socket).
- Novel techniques in partial and total nasal reconstruction.
- Innovative free tissue harvest donor sites with improved morbidities.
- Surgical quality improvement utilizing surgical risk calculators to predict the likelihood of specific outcomes after head and neck reconstruction.
- Clinical trial investigating a novel multi-modal, opioid-sparing perioperative analgesia regimen to improve postoperative pain management and decrease opioid consumption.
- Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) – standardized, evidence-based perioperative protocols to optimize perioperative care of our patients.
- Functional outcomes and quality of life outcomes research for facial reconstruction patients utilizing patient-reported outcomes questionnaires.