New York, NY –A 32-year-old psychotherapist from Manhattan is grateful to surgeons at Lenox Hill Hospital for having treated a venous malformation (VM) that was causing his face to appear asymmetrical.
Bradley Spencer started noticing asymmetry on his left cheek in 2005, which was also causing him some pain. However, he put off seeking medical attention because the pain was bearable and the asymmetry was not that alarming.
However, in 2009, the lump on Mr. Spencer’s face was becoming more noticeable and he went to his primary care physician, who referred him to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician. It was confirmed that Mr. Spencer had a VM.
A VM is the most common type of a vascular malformation and is caused by an abnormal creation and enlargement of localized veins. Most VM’s are present at birth, but as in Mr. Spencer’s case, many are not diagnosed until adulthood.
Due to the VM being close to Mr. Spencer’s facial nerve and the need for a large visible facial scar, his ENT physician did not recommend having surgery to remove the lesion for fear of facial paralysis and nerve damage. As such, Mr. Spencer resumed his life and went on to graduate school.
In 2014, Mr. Spencer could no longer ignore the growing asymmetry nor ignore the pain, which got progressively worse. After doing careful research online, Mr. Spencer realized that he really needed to seek the medical attention of Paul Yang, MD, vascular surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital, who then referred him to Rafael Alexander Ortiz, MD, Lenox Hill’s director of neuro-endovascular surgery and interventional neuro-radiology.
Upon reviewing Mr. Spencer’s computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Dr. Ortiz recommended a combined treatment -- a minimally invasive procedure called sclerotherapy, followed by surgical removal of the lesion.
“With sclerotherapy, a needle is inserted into the venous malformation under X-ray and ultrasound guidance, to shrink the abnormal veins and reduce the size and appearance of the malformation,” said Dr. Ortiz. “This allows the plastic surgeon to then surgically remove the malformation with minimal blood loss, making it a safer procedure and protecting the facial nerve at the same time.”
In February 2015, Mr. Spencer’s sclerotherapy was performed by Dr. Ortiz, followed by same-day surgical excision, which was performed by Lenox Hill’s pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgeon, Nicholas Bastidas, MD. Dr. Bastidas performed this operation without any visible scar, using only an incision inside the mouth.
Post surgery, Mr. Spencer’s face is now completely symmetrical and he has full function of his facial nerve.
“I am so grateful to Dr. Ortiz and Dr. Bastidas,” said Mr. Spencer. “I did all of my research and everything the doctors told me about the treatment options and how the surgery would go, was absolutely correct. I have my confidence back! I have my face back!”
To make an appointment at Lenox Hill’s Center for Cerebrovascular Surgery and Endovascular Surgery, call 516-231-8280. For Pediatric Plastic and Craniofacial surgery, call 212-485-0616.
About Lenox Hill Hospital
Lenox Hill Hospital, a member of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, is a 652-bed, fully accredited, acute care hospital located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with a national reputation for outstanding patient care and innovative medical and surgical treatments. US News & World Report has ranked the hospital among the nation’s top 50 in Cardiology and Heart Surgery and among the top 10 hospitals in the state of New York with a total of 11 “high performing” designations for its clinical performance in Cancer, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology and Urology. For more information, go to www.lenoxhillhospital.org.