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Recently, Academy Award Winning Actress Sandra Bullock was seen with a facial lump that has sparked attention. Although speculation surrounded whether this was the result of plastic surgery gone bad, based on its location and appearance, it more likely resembles her parotid salivary gland.
Located in front of the ears, the parotid glands extend beneath the earlobe to the angle of the jaw and are the largest salivary glands in the body. Although 80% of salivary gland tumors are found in the parotid gland, the majority of parotid tumors are fortunately non-cancerous.
Parotid surgery is a delicate operation primarily because the facial nerve passes through the center of the gland to reach the facial muscles, which allow facial movement. Any damage to this nerve can lead to facial nerve paralysis. Removal of the parotid gland can leave an unsightly depression with significant asymmetry when compared to the normal side. Finding a qualified surgeon plays an important role in ensuring the parotid surgery does not result in facial paralysis or alter your facial aesthetics. Advanced surgical techniques performed by a specialist in facial plastic surgery can ensure that you have a symmetric appearance following parotid surgery.
As a specialist in facial plastic surgery, my role is to reduce the effects of parotid gland surgery on a patient’s appearance. I perform parotid surgery through a facelift incision to hide scars in the normal skin creases whenever possible. I minimize the size of the surgical incision, carefully identify and preserve the facial nerve to prevent any permanent facial paralysis, and reconstruct the area once the parotid tumor is removed to prevent any unsightly contour deformities. Additionally, I was the lead author of a published scientific study that changed the management of temporary facial nerve paralysis in patients who had undergone parotid surgery.
If you are faced with a parotid tumor, ensure that you seek the advice of a facial plastic surgery specialist who can remove the parotid tumor while preserving normal function of the facial nerve and facial symmetry following surgery.