Mei Mei ~
I can readily understand your growing confusion when various alternatives are presented to you by seemingly competent doctors. I'll offer you my experience, but it is only one person's experience with one doctor, albeit a very skilled doctor with a sophisticated background (Yale Medical School instructor) and 30 years experience removing acoustic neuromas without damaging the patient's quality of life. Frankly, Mei Mei, I don't even know if this will be helpful to you - but I'll offer it, anyway, in the hope that it might give you some guidance.
I underwent retrosigmoid approach
(the formal, technical name for it) AN removal surgery in June, 2006. It was performed as a 'de-bulking' (partial resection) surgery, intended to cut off the tumor's blood supply and render it small enough to radiate. 3 months later, I underwent 26 FSR treatments to destroy the remaining tumor's DNA. So far, this approach appears to have been very successful. My neurosurgeon was highly skilled with decades of experience operating on ANs. He planned the surgery around my strong desire to avoid facial paralysis, if possible. My tumor was quite large (4.5 cm) and pressing hard on my brain stem. Unfortunately, because the AN had grown so large (I ignored my symptoms far too long) my hearing in the affected ear was no longer functional. The surgery did not improve it, and I didn't expect it to. However, the 'retro' surgery was otherwise spectacularly successful. I emerged from the anesthesia with only a very temporary case of 'double vision'. No facial deficits, no swallowing issues, not even nausea.
Today, 3Â½ years out, I'm doing very well. I have no trouble coping with my SSD, my balance is quite serviceable and I have no real post-op/radiation issues to speak of. A very, very slight case of 'dry eye' which doesn't even require using eye drops - just some rapid blinking (that I can do) and rest. I have a very small 'numb' spot on the left side of my tongue that I simply ignore and the left ('AN side') of my face is, perhaps, 10% less sensitive than the right side, but this doesn't present a problem. I can shave with no trouble and can still feel the wind on my face. My smile is completely normal. Frankly, I consider myself blessed.
I give the credit to God and my surgeon, in that precise order. Even my surgeon readily admitted that I was 'close to a miracle' with my excellent recovery. He told me I was in the top 5% of his AN patients in terms of the surgery/radiation being successful and with not having any real post-op issues to deal with. We share a mutual respect; I for his skills and compassion (he listened to my concerns and did something to address them) and he for my cognizance of what I expected from him and my recuperative powers, which he said were 'amazing', although others have recovered even faster. Still, I'm very satisfied with my surgery, radiation and recovery. Who wouldn't be?
I can only hope that my experience is encouraging to you, may give you some direction and, of course, that whatever path you chose, your outcome equals or exceeds mine. Jim