Facial reanimation refers to a number of surgical procedures used to restore movement, or animation, to certain parts of the face. It is a process of establishing a new nerve supply to a muscle or muscles on the face so as to restore normal movement to that muscle group.
The facial muscles have lost their functional ability and resultant nerve paralysis has set in for a number of reasons, ranging from congenital birth defects to surgery, Bell’s palsy, Lyme disease, tumors, stroke, accidents or many other forms of trauma.
Whatever the reason may be, the patient has lost their ability to move certain muscles on their face. It results in loss of ability to smile for instance or the ability to close the eyes, or move the eyebrows.
If you suffer from any type of facial paralysis, you know how limiting and aggravating the condition can be. Sometimes the effects extend beyond the cosmetic and can impair hearing, swallowing or breathing.
Facial reanimation aims to address both functional and cosmetic needs of the patient. The aim is to restore normal eating and swallowing function as well as achieve cosmetic facial symmetry.
Since so many different muscle and nerve groups can be affected, a variety of surgical remedies are used. No single procedure will work for all problems.
The surgical procedures are typically performed over many months because healing from each stage needs to be complete before the next step in the program can begin. In some instances, it may be possible to undertake multiple reanimation procedures in a single operation.
Regardless of the cause of your facial paralysis, facial reanimation surgery offers you the chance to restore movement and “reanimate” your face. The surgery makes it possible to restore complete or near-complete movement.
When you meet with one of the doctors at Jefferson Facial Plastics, they will study your case and interview you in-depth to understand the cause of your facial paralysis. They will also ask about any procedures or corrective surgeries you might have undertaken up to this point. They will interview you to fully understand all necessary medical details to guide them on the best way to deal with your facial reanimation.
The field of facial reanimation has been in existence for many years but, like many areas in medicine, new and improved procedures and processes are being developed all the time.
Since most steps in facial reanimation are quite involved, most of the surgical procedures will be conducted in a hospital setting, on an in-patient basis.
Your doctor will discuss the surgical procedures he feels will best deal with your situation and aims. You will learn that there are basically two types of facial reanimation surgery: the first is muscle transfers and the second, nerve grafting.
Muscle transfers involve moving tendons and muscles from one part of your body, the legs and abdomen usually, to your face. The tendons are attached and serve to allow for increased movement in your face.
Nerve grafting involves moving nerves from different parts of the body to the face. In so doing, your doctor ensures that you will have more movement and sensation in your face, as well as allowing you better muscle control.
As stated above, many times facial reanimation surgery is undertaken in stages. Every case and patient is different but your doctor will advise you on the best way to achieve your aims.
Consequently, your recovery routine will depend on which procedure was performed and the complexity of the operation.
In any case, your doctor will give you detailed instructions on home care. And, of course, the doctors at Jefferson Facial Plastics are available at anytime should you have any questions or concerns.