TUESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A new surgical method that uses a natural opening to remove skull base tumors results in fewer complications, less scarring and faster recovery for patients, according to the surgeons who developed the technique.

The natural opening used in this type of procedure is located behind the molars, above the jawbone and beneath the cheekbone.

Traditional surgeries to remove skull base tumors require incisions through the face and bone removal. These procedures can be disfiguring, cause nerve damage that results in facial paralysis, and require days or weeks of hospitalization and recovery.

The new approach developed by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine surgeons was first performed on a patient last year. Surgery time was reduced from six hours to two hours, the patient was discharged from the hospital the next day and had no visible evidence of the surgery.

Since then, six more patients have had the new procedure. The details of three of the seven surgeries are outlined in a report in the October issue of the Laryngoscope journal.

Along with the benefits for patients, the new technique is much less complicated for surgeons to perform, offers an excellent view of the skull base area and could reduce health care costs because of shorter patient hospital stays, according to the Johns Hopkins team.

However, this type of surgery isn't an option for patients who have very large skull base tumors or tumors that wrap around blood vessels. Traditional skull base surgery is the best choice for these patients.

More information

The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has more about skull base tumors.