Facial Reanimation is a type of surgery that restores movement, function, and symmetry to the face after a sustained nerve damage or trauma. This procedure can potentially revitalize the ability to talk, chew, drink, and/or smile.
Type of Facial Reanimation
- Bell's Palsy: Bell's Palsy is a condition causing paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of the face. Damage can cause the affected side of the face to droop and can damage the facial nerve. This can affect the sense of taste, how you make your tears, or saliva. In most cases, the weakness is temporary or significantly improves over weeks.
- Temporalis Tendon Transfer (T3): This involves moving the temporalis muscle and tendon from one location to another.
- Fascia Lata Graft: By using a portion of a tendon in your thigh to create an “inner scaffolding” that supports and balances facial features.
- Gracilis Muscle Transplant (Gracilis Free Flap): This process involves transferring a small portion of one of the inner thigh muscles (the gracilis) to replace a portion of muscle in your face.
- A Free Flap is a tissue graft that contains an arterial and venous blood supply. The tissue graft, along with its artery and vein, is lifted from a donor site (usually the arm, leg, abdomen or back), and then it is transferred to the area which needs reconstruction. The surgeon has reconnected the artery and vein of the tissue graft to the carotid artery and jugular vein in your neck in order to re-establish blood flow within the flap. The operation requires meticulous technique as the surgeon re-connects blood vessels having a diameter of approximately 1/10th inch using sutures that are finer than human hair. These sutures are not usually visible to the naked eye, which require special instruments and techniques. Surgical time is frequently between 8 to 10 hours as re-connecting the blood vessels is a painstaking process. After surgery, the blood supply to the free flap was be checked on a frequent basis by qualified nurses and doctors as it is crucial to the viability of the tissue graft. If a blood clot were to develop within the blood vessels of the free flap, your doctor may recommend urgent re-operation to remove the blood clot and restore blood flow. However, the actual risk of a blood clot forming is low (about 1 chance in 20).
- Masseteric Muscle Transfer: Reroutes a branch of the muscle that helps you chew.
- Hypoglossal Nerve Transfer: The hypoglossal nerve helps to move the tongue. Some fibers of the hypoglossal nerve can be repurposed toward facial muscles. The hypoglossal nerve has previously been used for smile reanimation.