Meet a Specialist: Caroline A. Banks, M.D.
Dr. Caroline Banks, a member of the Facial Nerve Center at Mass. Eye and Ear, has been interested in medicine for as long as she can remember. “My father is an otolaryngologist (ENT or ear, nose and throat specialist), and I remember reading and flipping through his medical journals when I was young. I was fascinated by medicine and knew that I wanted to become a physician someday,” she explains.
Dr. Banks’ decision to specialize in ENT occurred in medical school, during a two-week elective in otolaryngology. “Everything immediately clicked during those two weeks,” she recalls. “I realized why my dad loves this specialty. You can treat a wide range of patients of all ages, offer complex and intricate surgeries, and have the opportunity to truly improve patients’ quality of life.”
Helping Patients Smile
As a fellowship-trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood and Mass. Eye and Ear, Quincy, Dr. Banks provides highly specialized care for patients suffering from facial nerve disorders. At Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood, Dr. Banks primarily sees patients who are suffering from acute or sudden facial paralysis. Acute facial paralysis is the sudden onset of facial weakness and can cause a number of symptoms including drooling, trouble blinking and difficulty moving one or both sides of the face, often leading to difficulty smiling. Patients experiencing acute facial paralysis are encouraged to see a specialist as soon as possible.
Dr. Banks explains that the first course of treatment for acute facial paralysis is typically medication. She notes, “When patients are likely to have poor recovery after acute facial paralysis, I also suggest aggressive early physical therapy.” Physical therapy helps patients retrain their facial muscles, and in turn regain their smile.
If physical therapy is not effective, then facial nerve surgery is an option. “One of the most rewarding procedures I offer is smile surgery,” Dr. Banks says. “When performing gracilis, or smile surgery, I remove a small piece of muscle from the inside of a patients’ leg and transplant that muscle to the face, which allows the weakened side of the face to smile when the unaffected side smiles. During follow-up appointments, it’s incredible to see just how much the facial nerve surgeries improve patients’ quality of life.”
A Member of the Community
At Mass. Eye and Ear, Quincy, Dr. Banks offers a full range of cosmetic facial plastic and reconstructive procedures including facelifts, neck lifts, nasal re-shaping and injectables. She also offers reconstructive surgery for patients who have suffered from facial trauma or require reconstruction after cancer. As a member of the Quincy team, Dr. Banks explains that positive relationships with nearby dermatologists, as well as word of mouth, have been instrumental in spreading the word about the care she offers in Quincy.
Dr. Banks stresses the importance of spending time with patients and listening to patients’ concerns. “When I sit down with my patients, I want to learn everything I can about their background, their goals, and their reasons for seeing me. I think to myself, if this person were a family member, what would he or she want? This allows me to see the big picture and deliver the highest level of care possible.” She concludes, “It is such a privilege to work at Mass. Eye and Ear and have the opportunity to provide such specialized care to patients day after day.”
Contact Dr. Banks’ office at 617-936-6160.
View Dr. Banks’ online bio for more information.
Request an appointment.