How the Facial Nerve and Parotid Gland Are Connected
Parotid tumor removal, also known as parotid surgery, is a procedure used to address benign tumors around the ear. A team of head and neck surgeons and facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons who understands the link between the facial nerve and parotid gland must perform the parotidectomy. Otherwise, the risk of facial nerve damage increases.
The facial nerve, commonly referred to as the seventh cranial nerve, develops at the same time as the parotid gland. It exits the skull and travels underneath the ear toward muscles that allow an individual to smile, frown and make other facial expressions. Meanwhile, the parotid gland keeps growing, and it eventually wraps around the facial nerve.
Ultimately, the facial nerve divides into two branches inside the parotid gland: the upper and lower divisions. It also carries branches that move further into the parotid gland and send signals that tell the gland when to produce and secrete saliva.
Dr. Babak Azizzadeh and Dr. Babak Larian of the CENTER for Advanced Parotid & Facial Nerve Surgery are world-renowned for their minimally invasive parotid tumor removal technique that preserves the facial nerve. Together during surgery, they carefully track and monitor a patient’s facial nerve and parotid gland. By doing so, Dr. Azizzadeh and Dr. Larian reduce the risk of parotid surgery complications.
Our Approach to Parotid Tumor Removal
Dr. Azizzadeh and Dr. Larian take a holistic approach to parotid tumor removal. They examine scans prior to surgery and determine the best treatment plan to give the patient the best results possible.
There are several kinds of parotid tumors, including:
- Pleomorphic Adenoma: A benign tumor that affects the parotid and salivary glands. Pleomorphic adenomas are some of the most common salivary and parotid gland tumors.
- Warthin Tumor: A benign tumor of the salivary gland that generally begins as a painless, slow-growing bump in front of the ear.
- Monomorphic Adenoma: A benign salivary gland tumor that affects both the parotid gland and upper lip.
Dr. Azizzadeh and Dr. Larian know any mass in the parotid gland should be carefully evaluated and diagnosed. Prior to surgery, Dr. Larian performs a needle biopsy as part of a patient assessment. He may request a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of a patient’s face and neck, too.
Whenever possible, Dr. Azizzadeh and Dr. Larian perform a micro-parotidectomy, which utilizes the smallest incision possible so there is less scarring and pain after surgery. Once they make the incision, Dr. Azizzadeh meticulously tracks the facial nerve to ensure when Dr. Larian removes the tumor that the nerve is not touched. Once the tumor has been located and removed by Dr. Larian, Dr. Azizzadeh performs the reconstruction to fill in the divot left from the tumor. The reconstruction process also helps protect the facial nerve so the patient does not develop Frey’s syndrome.
The facial nerve and parotid gland are closely related. As such, a patient should seek a team of experts, like Dr. Azizzadeh and Dr. Larian, for safe, effective parotid tumor removal.
Dr. Azizzadeh strives to help patients save their facial nerve, avoid complications and preserve their facial function during parotid surgery. To find out more about parotid tumor removal, please contact us today at (310) 657-2203 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh.
Request your consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh today
Call us at (310) 657-2203 to schedule an appointment.Schedule a Consultation