Dr. Tessa Hadlock has focused her career on making quality of life better for head and neck cancer patients who suffer from facial palsy, by attempting to restore facial movement and function. Facial palsy is weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the face. She and her team operate to restore a person’s meaningful smile, establish better blink and eye closure, help people with speech and articulation, food manipulation, and oral competence. They also work to correct the disfiguring collapse of the cheek, face, and nose that occur with facial paralysis from head and neck cancer. While their results still require refinement and there are ongoing challenges in facial reanimation, measurable differences in function and quality of life over the course of Tessa’s career have motivated her to innovate further in the field of facial palsy management.
Dr. Tessa Hadlock is director of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Professor of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School. She is a 1990 graduate of Bowdoin College and a 1994 graduate of the joint Harvard Medical School / M.I.T. HST program. She interned in general surgery at the University of Chicago Hospitals, followed by residency in Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery at Harvard. Her training included a two year research fellowship in tissue engineering at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. She has subspecialty training in microvascular head and neck reconstruction, and since 2002, has been on staff at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear infirmary, where she directs the Facial Nerve Center. As a clinician-scientist, she is the author of over 150 original articles, as well as invited writings and non-print materials, and has edited two textbooks. She serves as the principle investigator for an NIH-funded R-01 research grant titled “The Surgical and Rehabilitative Management of Facial Nerve Injury”. Her primary interest is in comprehensive management of the paralyzed face.