Facial Reanimation Surgery

Facial reanimation surgery is an umbrella term for all procedures that may help restore facial muscle function in patients who experience a partial or complete facial muscle paralysis.

This may result from a facial nerve palsy, due to inflammation, facial injury, or previous surgery. Facial reanimation surgery can roughly take two forms, depending on the nature and timing of nerve function loss.

Static facial reanimation aims to restore static symmetry to the face with the use of sutures, static retraction slings and (gold) weights which take advantage of gravity to reduce the visibility of facial asymmetry. This is the preferred technique in patients with longstanding facial paralysis or in patients who were born without facial nerve function. 

Dynamic facial reanimation makes use of nerve grafting in order to restore neurological stimulation of the facial muscles to improve their mobility. Nerve transfers or grafts can restore facial muscle function in people who recently lost facial movement. 

Hypoglossal-facial nerve anastomosis is the most popular method of reconstructing the facial nerve in facial palsy. It includes the technique where a surgical connection, or anastomosis, is performed between the hypoglossal nerve and the remaining facial nerve with its connection to the facial muscles. The hypoglossal nerve is responsible for movement of the tongue on one side, but when its branches are connected to the facial nerve it may help improve facial asymmetry. 

Many factors are taken into consideration when determining the best approach to facial reanimation, including your age, the cause of your facial paralysis, and whether it affects one side of your face or both.