ENT: More than meets the ear, nose and throat

Otolaryngologists (more commonly known as ENT doctors) do much more than remove tonsils.

  • Otolaryngologists treat complex conditions that affect the head and neck.
  • Specialized training and education prepare them to deliver high-quality care.
  • The difference between facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and plastic surgery.

[3 MIN READ]

Otolaryngology is the specialized field of medicine that deals with the head and neck. It’s what most people know by the more familiar (and slightly easy to say) term, “ENT.” However, ENT (ear, nose and throat) doesn’t quite capture the complex surgeries, care and services otolaryngologists often perform.

“Many people are surprised that our field does what we do,” explains Prabhat Bhama, MD, facial plastic surgeon, otolaryngology, at Providence Medical Group. “It’s much more than removing tonsils – it’s a variety – everything from treating cancers to performing complex facial reconstructive surgery.”

In fact, the field diagnoses, treats and manages so many complex conditions, they are moving away from “ENT” and instead are using Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (OTO-HNS) to better reflect the depth and breadth of care they deliver.

ENT is much more than removing tonsils – it’s a variety – everything from treating cancers to performing complex facial reconstructive surgery.

Dr. Bhama shares more insight on his evolving field.

What is otolaryngology?

Otolaryngology is a medical specialty that treats many conditions – from the straightforward to the complex. Otolaryngologists diagnose and treat:

  • Hearing and balance issues
  • Swallowing and speech disorders
  • Breathing and sleep issues
  • Allergies and sinuses
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Skin disorders
  • Facial trauma
  • Facial nerve paralysis
  • Prolonged ear pressure and infections

What training do otolaryngologists receive?

There are many subspecialties within OTO-HNS, including:

  • Pediatric otolaryngology
  • Otology (ears)
  • Laryngology
  • Head and neck can
  • Rhinology
  • Facial and plastic reconstructive surgery

Doctors receive specialized training in the field and subspecialty. For example, Dr. Bhama completed both a residency in otolaryngology and a fellowship in facial plastic reconstructive surgery at Harvard’s Facial Nerve Center. He is double board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. His colleagues in other subspecialties have similar training with a residency followed by a fellowship.

What is facial plastic and reconstructive surgery?

A facial plastic surgeon is not the same as a general plastic surgeon. Dr. Bhama uses his specialized training in otolaryngology and reconstructive facial plastic surgery to perform surgery on the face and neck. He does not do any other types of plastic surgery.

Facial plastic surgeons perform functional surgeries to improve breathing, eyesight or hearing and cosmetic surgery to improve appearance, such as:

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Brow lift
  • Forehead lift
  • Chin lift
  • Eyelid lift
  • Facial implants
  • Injectables (including Botox)
  • Lip enhancements

He also performs complex reconstructive surgery after cancer, facial trauma, facial nerve reconstruction and much more.

As a facial plastic surgeon, I’m able to help improve the quality of life of the men and women I see while offering cosmetic skills to help them feel better about themselves.

“As a facial plastic surgeon, I’m able to help improve the quality of life of the men and women I see while offering cosmetic skills to help them feel better about themselves,” Dr. Bhama says of his profession.

How do otolaryngologists work with other specialists?

Collaboration is at the core of otolaryngology. As a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Bhama works with a group of other specialists to deliver high-quality, comprehensive care at the Center for Facial Paralysis at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, WA. There, a group of providers that includes a neurologist, neurosurgeon, plastic surgeons and Dr. Bhama work with patients with facial nerve damage.

Together, this team treats facial paralysis and nerve damage caused by conditions, such as stroke, tumors or Bell’s palsy, Lyme disease and others.

“Many of our patients suffer not only from the functional loss facial paralysis brings, but also the cosmetic issues,” explains Dr. Bhama. “Our team is able to restore function and improve self-confidence.”

The Facial Center performs many procedures in their office, eliminating the need for a trip to the operating room and general anesthesia. If patients do need in-patient surgery, they benefit from the trusted and experienced post-operative care available at Providence. 

Collaboration extends far beyond facial plastic surgery. Otolaryngologists regularly partner with other specialists, including:

  • Dermatology
  • Pulmonology
  • Primary care providers
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Other specialties as needed

As you can see there is much more to the field of otolaryngology than meets the eye – or ear, nose or throat! If you’re struggling with a condition that affects your head or neck, like nasal polyps that keep you from breathing easily or a facial nerve disorder that interferes with your confidence and communication, an otolaryngologist has the training and experience to help you feel your best.

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Otolaryngologists at Providence treat many conditions that can impact your quality of life – from breathing, sleeping, exercising and just everyday activities. Schedule an appointment with an otolaryngologist and find relief from your symptoms. Use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

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The Providence Body & Mind Team is dedicated to providing medically-sound, data-backed insights and advice on how to reach and maintain your optimal health through a mixture of exercise, mindfulness, preventative care and healthy living in general.

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