Cranial flap (only cut from ear to ear and my face being slid off this time)

Following on from the failed attempts to fill holes around my eye, we had to cancel an operation due to the possibility of a new tumor. For 2 weeks our world stopped.

Thankfully the result of this was good, so we tried to get it re-booked as soon as we had the news.

Experience teaches me that the sooner these holes are dealt with, the better. They only get bigger.

An interesting note of opinion is from another of my consultants whos advice is to let the fistulas open as far as they want to before corrective surgery, the theory being it will stop when it finds good skin. Sound enough advice, but I have been there too many times now, given up too much to have holes in my head, I need it dealt with ASAP, Oh and we are getting married in less than a month!

“I can get you in on the 28th of may?” (2015) Said my consultant. 2 days before the wedding?

It is do-able I thought, not ideal but this is important.

Book it Sue said, it cannot go on for longer, it just isn’t worth it, we will have our wedding photos with bruises and bandages.

I went back to Niall my consultant and said if he is sure I will be okay, as the wedding is 2 days after then go for it….

“Possible” he said “but you will have staples across your head……” Bugger that I said book it for after!

Face off

“If you will let me I am going to do something different” said Niall.

He explained that we needed to repack the area behind the orbit graft A new graft has nothing to adhere to so he needed to put more muscle in there, taken this time from my skull, the chewing muscle from my temple.

To do this they need to cut across the scalp and pull the face forward working behind the scenes to re-position half the muscle into the gap and pack out the hole. The remaining half continues to act as a chewing muscle.

If that is not descriptive enough, have ever seen the film “Face off”? you get an idea.
Again, I had a decision to make…

“book me in.”

Throughout my story I have set about writing this as not only my experience but as a tool for anyone else that may have the misfortune to undergo a similar surgery.

My experience has ranged to all manner of facial surgery techniques, facial reconstruction, head and neck cancer, I have always tried to be honest with what it is really like, how it feels, how it made me feel….

Cranial Flap

Yes, you always imagine the worst. The pain, lifetime side effects, short term cosmetic problems, on-going surgery.

The idea of having my head cut open and pulled off is not nice. I saw it once on TV, and remembered that as grim as it looked, the girl was okay after a couple of months. But factor in the cutting and removal of muscle that helps you eat, and drilling through skull to feed some of that through to another area of your face…. A grim image.

Off I went for another stay in the fabulous Chelsea and Westminster hospital….

So I write this a week after the operation, so how was it?

My operation was roughly 4.5 hours so not huge in comparison. I woke and instinctively felt my head to find no bandage.

I expected to be wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy, but aside from a plaster over my eye it felt fine. In fact my forhead felt okay, I expected it to be numb at least?11281824_10206637751132521_1454877873_n

But what about the staples? Oh there they are! Sue counted about 50!


The staples are quite painless, in fact kind of like a zip. Again it was the drain which was uncomfortable. Inserted into the cut to obviously drain off the fluid, that was horrible when it was removed, a 15inch pipe that lay across my skull under my scalp exiting behind my ear.

To remove it it was simply pulled free, a horrible sensation.

This picture is the morning after when they changed my dressing, and as you can see it looks okay. You can see where it is quite swollen, but a real plus here is that they have also managed to lift my cheek, which had dropped dramatically after my Latimus Dorsi flap last year, so hopefully I get back a symmetrical face as well.11328819_10206637751572532_253311464_n (1)The stitches come out tomorrow (1 week after) and staples out next week. It is incredibly uncomfortable sleeping, I cant wait for this stage to go, but overall very happy with the out come so far.

Fast forward a few years

Its 2020 and COVID 19 has caused the most significant global challenge in living history, and particularly because I couldn’t get my hair cut… so I shaved my hair which revealed my scars…. not bad at all


1 Comment

  1. Dan you are a star, best wishes and love for a speedy recovery. And congrats to you and Susan I hope you have a long and happy life together , so sorry I missed your big day . love from Fiona xx


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