Facial Reanimation and Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis is a condition that affects thousands of Americans each year. Those afflicted by facial paralysis suffer not only the lost of spontaneous movement of the facial muscles, but often experience extreme facial disfigurements as well. Both of which can take a severe toll on a person’s quality of life, if reconstructive measures are not taken to correct the problems.

The Facial Paralysis Institute is the premier center for facial nerve disorders, located in Beverly Hills, CA. The Institute is comprised of world-renowned experts from various specialties who are singularly focused on facial nerve disorders – including facial plastic surgeons, neuro-otologists, physicial therapists, head and neck surgeons, radiologists, neurosurgeons and psychologists. Dr Babak Azizzadeh, Director of The Facial Paralysis Institute, is a reconstructive surgeon who is deeply committed to the treatment of individuals with facial paralysis and Bells Palsy.

To achieve facial reanimation after paralysis, Dr. Azizzadeh takes an innovative approach, using nerves from other areas of the body to replace the facial nerves that have been damaged by paralysis. Once the damaged nerves have been replaced, spontaneous animation of the face is restored. Not only does this allow a patient who has been afflicted by the paralysis to regain control over the simplest of facial functions – such as blinking and smiling, but it also corrects much of the disfigurement that often results from damaged facial nerves.

To restore facial animation after paralysis, Dr. Azizzadeh performs a gracilis muscle transplant (also referred to as gracilis free flap). The gracilis muscle is found in the thigh and its ability to be transplanted to the face complete with its nerve, vein and artery make it the perfect substitute for a damaged facial nerve. Using microsurgical techniques, Dr. Azizzadeh attaches a small segment of the gracilis muscle to cross-facial nerve grafts or the hypoglossal nerve, depending on the age of the patient – which will ultimately function the same way the damaged nerve did before becoming impaired.

The gracilis free flap is used for dynamic reanimation of the face in patients who suffer from permanent, long-lasting facial paralysis or congenital facial paralysis. This method of facial reanimation is used in cases where other methods would not prove beneficial. The procedure can be extremely beneficial to patients with facial paralysis caused by a variety of triggers, such as severe Bell’s Palsy, a tumor, acrostic neuroma, trauma or birth defect.

If you have been suffering with permanent or prolonged facial paralysis due to an injury, birth defect, stroke or other trauma, the gracilis free flap may be able to help reverse some of its acrostic neuroma effects by restoring function to the facial nerves. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh at The Facial Paralysis Institute to find out how you may be able to benefit from this life-altering procedure.