Facial Reconstruction Surgery

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What is facial reconstruction surgery?

This procedure is commonly performed due to facial damage caused by trauma or major cancer surgery. The main outcomes from facial reconstruction surgery are to improve appearance and function, as well as assist with mental wellbeing after changes to your face.


Who is it for?

The reasons for thinking about facial reconstruction surgery are entirely personal. Some of them may include:

  • Repairing a defect from cancer removal.
  • Improvement of appearance due to trauma or injury damage to your face.

To gain the best outcome from facial reconstruction surgery it is best that you:

  • Have completed any required cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Don’t smoke or have recently quit (smoking impacts recovery from this procedure).


What happens during facial reconstruction surgery?

Before surgery

The first step is to make an appointment to see Dr McMillan.

You will meet Dr McMillan at his private rooms in Fernbrae House, Dunedin or in Invercargill. You can discuss your personal goals in relation to facial reconstruction surgery, and talk though the different options. This is an important step, not only outlining your expectations but also developing your relationship with Dr McMillan as you work together to achieve your goals.

Depending on how much skin defect there is, or the extent of the trauma or injury to your face Dr McMillan may discuss with you a staged approach to your facial reconstruction surgery. This will ensure the best outcome for your reconstruction.

Once you have decided on what is to be done, a date will be booked for you at Mercy Hospital, Dunedin to have your surgery.

During surgery

Facial reconstruction surgery will require a general anaesthetic. Once you are asleep the procedure will begin.

The discussions you had prior to your facial reconstruction surgery will determine the actions taken during surgery and, if needed, whether you will be having a flap repair or skin graft.

A flap repair will use skin from the area around the defect. A skin graft will require skin to be removed from another part of your body, a "donor" site, and placed over the defect.

There will be surgical incisions, possibly at several sites depending on the type of reconstruction.

The suture lines on your face will be covered with dressings and supported as necessary.

If you have any ‘donor’ sites, these will also have dressings applied.

Recovery process

The length of stay in hospital after facial reconstruction surgery will depend very much on your own operation, but is usually 2-3 days. There may need to be some short-term adjustment to your diet as your mouth movements may be hampered, or more difficult, for a period of time.


Expected outcome

Depending on the extent of your facial reconstruction surgery, you may need somewhere from 2-6 weeks off work.

You will have some red scarring to your face at first, which will fade over the course of the next 6 months to a year.

Dr McMillan will give you advice on how best to look after your face during this time, including protecting your face from sun exposure.


Risks and complications

As with all surgical procedures there are risks and potential complications with facial reconstruction surgery. Dr McMillan will discuss all of these with you during your consultation and answer your questions.



There is a cost for facial reconstruction surgery when done privately. The exact figure will depend on a range of factors but generally the cost is between $3,500 and $18,000. ACC will generally fund reconstruction required due to injury.


Contact us

Start the journey to the new you; get in contact to make an initial consultation with Dr McMillan about facial reconstruction surgery.

Dr Will McMillan Plastic Surgery in Dunedin

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