Meet a Doctor: Tessa A. Hadlock, M.D.
With fashionable décor and scenic views overlooking the downtown skyline, the waiting area of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Mass. Eye and Ear’s Facial and Cosmetic Surgery Center (FaCSC) may be reminiscent of any waiting area on Park Avenue. However, “A trip to the FaCSC is really unlike a trip to anyplace else in the country,” says Dr. Tessa Hadlock.
The reason for this is that it also houses the Facial Nerve Center, which was established as part of the FaCSC in 1989 to provide the experience and expertise of a team of medical specialists skilled in the evaluation and treatment of facial nerve disorders such as Bell’s Palsy. Dr. Hadlock, who is the Director of the Facial Nerve Center, explains, “We deliver a level of care to facial nerve patients that is very difficult to find outside of this center.”
Although facial nerve disorders are relatively rare, Dr. Hadlock describes them as her passion. “I’m a facial nerve doctor because I feel there is so much room for progress in both research and clinical techniques,” she says.
Originally from Lincoln, Mass., Dr. Hadlock joined the Mass. Eye and Ear in 1995 as a junior resident and completed four years of residency training. She also completed a year of subspecialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, during which time she trained in techniques that she now uses to help facial nerve patients.
Dr. Hadlock received her medical degree from the Health Sciences and Technology program — a joint endeavor between Harvard and MIT. “The idea behind that program is to produce physician-scientists who do more than take care of patients — they really look at the big picture. I am always trying to fulfill a mission of that medical program,” says Dr. Hadlock.
As an institution that embraces both clinical care and scientific research as two of its core activities, the Mass. Eye and Ear’s Facial Nerve Center allows Dr. Hadlock to do just that. “I’m permitted to go into the laboratory and do basic science research on facial nerve regeneration, in addition to treating a very specialized group of patients. Here, the tools are in place to develop better therapies for facial nerve disorders than currently exist,” she says.
Thinking about the future, Dr. Hadlock adds, “When the Mass. Eye and Ear’s Facial Nerve Center acts as a magnet for people with facial nerve disorders and we have the same sets of eyes looking at these disorders over and over — that is how breakthroughs are made.”