Xray image of jaw

UTMB Health treats patients like family during ‘Jaw in a Day’ reconstructions

UTMB Health's Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery department provides patients with the highest quality care for a variety of facial and mouth surgeries by using innovative approaches to minimize the number of surgeries needed.

Computer generated image of jaw section needing repair

In recent years, technology has made it possible for patients to receive a "jaw in a day" when undergoing jaw reconstruction. Dr. Hisham Marwan, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at UTMB Health, explained that UTMB surgeons can do all of this in one single surgery instead of multiple surgeries.

The old technique would remove a cancerous tumor and leave nothing behind, affecting the patient's ability to speak, eat, and drink. With this new surgical approach, if a patient has lost their jawbone, soft tissues, tongue, cheek or teeth, they can have all of these parts reconstructed in just one procedure.

Computer-generated image of a jaw needing repair

“When patients come in with cancer or benign tumors in their jaws requiring resection and removal, we can replace all the missing tissues in one surgery to treat their condition,” Marwan said. “By having this surgery, patients are given back their life, especially their quality of life.”

According to several studies, these types of cancer will progress within four to six weeks if treatment is delayed, which is why Marwan recommends seeking treatment as soon as possible.

“Our goal is to provide the best care possible to all of our patients, and I treat every patient as if they were a member of my family. The team that works with me in the operating room, in the clinic, and even as an inpatient is highly trained," Marwan said. "From the moment the patient steps into the clinic, they will follow a specific path and meet my team, and we always establish a special relationship with them. All of the patients are really pleased with seeing the same people over and over."

As a result, Marwan's patients become familiar with who is taking care of them, which he said makes the process go smoothly and quickly.

"In other places, it usually takes about 16-18 hours for this kind of surgery to take place. Here it takes between six to eight hours maximum, and the patients will wake up in the intensive care unit," Marwan said. "It is our mission at UTMB to provide our patients with the best possible care. From the moment they step into our clinic, we care for them until they have been fully discharged."

When Maribel Flores' son, Pascual Flores, needed surgery, she witnessed first-hand how the UTMB team works. Maribel said she will forever be grateful to the UTMB staff for providing excellent care to Pascual during those worrying times.

“Although our case was unsettling, to say the least, his team was understanding and showed a great deal of compassion toward my son and our entire family. Dr. Marwan and his team were always there to reassure my family and me of the positive outcomes of the procedures that my son would go through,” Flores said. “Everyone was very attentive to my son's needs before and after the procedures. My son, my family, and I are more than grateful for having had the opportunity to work with Dr. Marwan and his amazing team.”

As a result, the Flores family undoubtedly recommends UTMB to their friends and family

“The UTMB team is caring and compassionate toward their patients and their families. The quality of care they provide is outstanding and adheres to every individual's need,” she said. “For these reasons, we would recommend other individuals to UTMB.”

With more than 100 "jaw in a day" surgeries completed at UTMB, Dr. Marwan performed one on Laura Reitze in October of 2022 for squamous cell carcinoma of the mandibular alveolar ridge, which is an oral cancer.

Reitze said Marwan warned her in great detail about how difficult the surgery would be, but she really didn’t appreciate the warning until she began her recovery after getting the cancer removed.

“I spent two weeks at UTMB, and while it was not my happiest life experience, Marwan and his team of doctors were incredible. They were attending [to] me three and four times every 24 hours, and ensuring that the new gum tissue would stay alive,” Reitze said. “Honestly, I still can’t believe how well I was cared for and how much empathy and concern Marwan and his team showed for me. It was very tough, but because they were all so invested in me, I felt like I had to do my part. Even now when I go in for office appointments, I feel that empathy and concern.”

Reitze said Marwan ensured she was trained to use a feeding tube and understand the nuances of talking through one.

"I am so thankful that UTMB offered this kind of surgery and that Dr. Marwan was the surgeon. I started this saga with a cancer diagnosis from a professor at UT dental school who then referred me to a clinic in downtown Houston," she said. "When I explained to the doctor at the clinic that I lived in Galveston, was already a UTMB patient, and that my husband was currently undergoing cancer treatments at UTMB, he referred me to Marwan."

Marwan recently referred Reitze to a prosthodontist so she can begin the process of restoring her teeth.

"I am cancer-free, and I’m hoping to be able to eat a steak very soon. Life is back to being very, very good,” Reitze said. “I have Dr. Marwan, his team, and UTMB to thank for that."

Learn more about oral-maxillofacial surgery and “jaw in a day surgery” at UTMB Health

The above story was produced by Holly Galvan with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team. Our integrity promise to our readers is to clearly identify all CI Storytelling posts so they are separate from the content decided upon, researched and written by our journalism department.