LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A procedure will change the life of a mother who has had to live with a hole in the side of her face.
Lessya Sennik-Kotelevskaya was left disfigured after being misdiagnosed with a cancerous tumor and mistreated with radiation. Part of her jawbone and cheek deteriorated as a result.
On Monday the Russian-born mother, who prefers her maiden name Sennik, will undergo a 14 to 24 hour reconstructive surgery led by Dr. Jarrod Little.
"This is the side of plastic surgery that you can really make a dramatic and lifelong change for somebody," Dr. Little said.
WAVE 3 News introduced you to Sennik in 2013 when she found out UofL Physicians and Dr. Little would donate everything needed to make the $1 million surgery a reality.
Since then, Dr. Little implanted a device near her jaw line.
"Lessya has been coming in on a weekly basis and we add some more fluid to a tissue expander to stretch out the skin of her neck. It's healthy skin that's not been radiated and we're going to move that skin up to the cheek to reconstruct her cheek," Dr. Little said.
"It's painful because it's been stretching her neck," Oleg Sennik said, her cousin who interpreted for Lessya. Oleg spent decades searching for his childhood friend and relative. He finally tracked her down online and flew her to Louisville more than a year ago.
During Monday's surgery, doctors will remove her fibula bone from her leg and form it into a new jawbone.
More than 10 years ago Sennik was accidentally hit in the face during a basketball game in Kazakhstan and the swelling was misdiagnosed as cancer.
Sennik was 19 years old when she lost her home, husband and boutique business following the misdiagnosis.
Lessya has a six-year-old but lost a child before her son was born due to unnecessary medical procedures.
You can follow Lessya's progress by following the hashtag #Hope4Lessya and @UofLPhysicians on Twitter.
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