Dr. Azizzadeh Featured on Oprah
Mary Jo Buttafuocco had previously appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show explaining that she continues to suffer from facial paralysis and ear damage from the shooting. After viewing the show Dr. Azizzadeh, a reconstructive surgeon, said to himself “This is someone I could definitely help. I decided that I was going to try to get a team together to make her life better.”
The bullet had traveled through the temporal bone in Mary Jo’s face. The facial muscle that connects the temporal bone allows for expression and is connected to the ear function. Dr. Azizzadeh says, “The nerve was not completely cut but was partially cut during this gunshot wound; the nerve slowly had some return of function but not complete return.”
The reconstructive procedure was conducted in three parts by the team. The first of the three-part procedure was an asymmetric facelift to restore Mary Jo’s smile and provide a symmetric appearance. Next, Mary Jo’s ear canal was widened to improve her hearing and prevent infections. To complete the procedure Mary Jo worked with a physical therapist to strengthen her facial muscles.
Over the years Mary Jo had not thought of having reconstructive surgery because it was not the most important thing to her. She says, “My face was crooked and I was a little self-conscious about it, but it was something I lived with. I was very blessed. I had my arms and legs and brain and face.” After Dr. Azizzadeh approached her with the changes that could be made to restore her smile through reconstructive surgery she was willing to give it a try.
Dr. Azizzadeh’s medical staff continually reassured Mary Jo as she was preparing for the surgeries. They asked her, “How do you feel?” She said, “I have been through a heck of a lot worse. This is going to be good. This is going to be fun. I don’t mind getting a facelift too!”
At the end of the procedures and at the conclusion of the Oprah Winfrey show Mary Jo says, “I love the results!”