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post fibula free flap

antoinette510's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2013

Hi everyone!  

My story is much like everyone else's here..glad to be a survivor...original cancer was tongue..squamous cell hemiglissectomy with unilateral neck dissection done in 2002 with radiation to follow.  Did fine until November of 2012 when we discovered osteoradionecrosis set in and basically ate up lower jaw necessitating fibula free flap.  This was successfully done in September of this year..thank God!  My question is this..how do you handle the hair growth inside the mouth!  I pluck and pluck and pluck!  Some I can't see and my tongue is raw from the stubble!  Docs says its a good thing ..means we have good blood supply..which I am grateful for but there has got to be a way to get rid of these hairs!  I still have a couple of surgeries to go before I can have teeth at bottom again but overall life is good. :). I am having some residual pain in the operative leg, mostly at knee and just below..anyone else with similar issues?


Thanks for any and all advice!


longtermsurvivor's picture
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mar 2010

I had much the same reaction as you.  When the surgery was planned for my floor of mouth cancer, it included a distal radial free flap reconstruction.  My forearm is pretty hairy, and I admit the thought of haiir growing in my mouth freaked me out.  So I drew in the planned graft with magic markerr and sought out an electrrolysis practitioner to depilate the area.  It took her almost 12 hours over the course of three sessions, pretty unpleasant.  So they grafted this area, and almost none of the hair regrew.  Then I got another cancer in my soft palate and the radiation removed the rest of it anyway.  I guess there isn't a take home lesson here, and I'm not suggesting you get radiation just to remove the hair, lol. The hair growing in your mouth is permanent, it won't fall out at some later date.  And as unpleasant as the electrolysis was, I cannot imagine it would be any fun done in the mouth, even though that area is numb.


welcome to the club, although I don't have a good idea to share with you.  And I've never told this rather embarrasing story on myself before.  But I can certainly understand your reaction.



antoinette510's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2013

Ha!  Thanks Pat!  I had JOKINGLY asked the docs prior to surgery if I would grow hair in there and they always laughed with me.  I WISH I had known exactly which leg and area they would take and I could have maybe done some pretty planning as you did. It wasn't until after I was asleep that they decided which leg to use.  The last thing I remember was them drawing in both legs!  LOL.   I'm sure I can't be the only one with this issue! :). hairy grin!

hwt's picture
Posts: 2330
Joined: Jun 2012

My surgeon warned me or I would have freaked out. He told me radiaition would take care of it and it did, completely. He did tell me he had a patient that did not require radiation that was going thru laser tx, so that might be an option for you.  I haven't experienced any leg pain to speak of.  My initial cancer was of the mandible.

Viilik70's picture
Posts: 71
Joined: May 2012

I had a chest flap done to get circulation to my dead jawbone area and ha the dead part removed and also had leg skin Putin my mouth also but I don't really feel the hair in there and it's so far back I can't really see it. That's a good thing I guess. I just want to say I admire that you guys went all the way and had the do the whole leg bone thing also. They were too scared to do it all at once with me and when I hear some of the horror stories about this surgery it freaks me out and I'm just too scared to do it because there is a chance it won't take and then they would have to do it again! I can't do it Too chicken!

john j

NelsonOng's picture
Posts: 48
Joined: Aug 2013

And that requires my left fibula to reconstruct the jaw. Free flap from my left thigh where my surgeon was pleased to cut cos he says my fresh mostly lean.. LOL. Yes the hairs on free flap kept growing whom my wife had to patiently plucked it out (thank God for a good wife). HWT and my plastic surgeon said the same thing, laser will do the job. Since my surgeon said that I need to go for radiation treatment, forget about laser as radiation treatment will wipe out the hairs. Today I am 6 month post treatment, my free flap is smooth with no hair. I know how you are feeling as I know hair at free flap tends to grow very fast and I thank God for my wife, patiently pluck an average of 280 hairs on each ocassion and she has done on 4 sessions of plucking (averaging 90 mins each) till RT nears.  You should also seek your doctor advised to see if there are anymore alternatives. Bless you.  



Debi16043's picture
Posts: 52
Joined: Aug 2011

antoinette, i too had this surgery 5 years ago in 2011 for scs of the mandible.  I had radiation following the free fibula flap and so it wiped out all the hair... then due to osteonecrosis  had to have same surgery again... just had it sept 7, 2016.  They removed my fibula on the other leg so now both of my fibulas are gone.  This time im cancer free so i dont have to have radiation and already lots of hair growing on in my mouth on new jaw.. my doctor suggested laser surgery to remove hair.  I also have to wait for teeth to have couple more surgeries.  


So any of you have the hair removed following fibula free flap?

SASH's picture
Posts: 399
Joined: Apr 2006

I had 2 skin grafts in my mouth after radiation.  The first was from my hip to my tongue and the other was from my thigh to try and cover some exposed bone in my lower jaw.  Luckily I haven't experienced any hair growth in my mouth, but I did joke with different doctors about it and I so want to go into my next doctor appointment with long strands of hair hanging out of my mouth.  

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