FACIAL RE-ANIMATION SURGERY
(GRACILIS MUSCLE TRANSFER)
WHAT IS A GRACILIS MUSCLE TRANSFER?
In cases where a patient has experienced paralysis in the facial muscles, facial re-animation surgery by means of a gracilis muscle transfer, may be recommended. During the gracilis muscle transfer procedure, a muscle from the thigh is connected to the nerves in the face to allow for facial movement.
WHY OPT FOR A GRACILIS MUSCLE TRANSFER?
Facial re-animation surgery is best suited to patients who have good nerve growth potential. The procedure achieves effective results in those who are unable to smile as a result of facial palsy. It is often recommended for those who have experienced facial palsy for more than two years, and who are likely to have muscles that have deteriorated to such an extent that new muscles need to be introduced.
WHAT DOES THE PROCEDURE INVOLVE?
During the procedure, the gracilis muscle is transferred from the upper inner thigh to the area of the face affected by palsy. Dr September will make an incision in the inner thigh, through which a part of the gracilis muscle (along with the nerve and blood vessels) are removed. An incision is made in the affected area of the face, and the muscle is connected to blood vessels by means of microsurgery. This keeps the muscles alive, and allows the nerve to activate the muscles in the face. The transferred muscle is stitched to the corner of the mouth from the inside. When the muscle contracts, the mouth is pulled into a smile.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
You may feel some pain following surgery, but Dr September will prescribe any necessary medications to ease discomfort. You may need to stay in hospital for around a week following the procedure so that your recovery can be carefully monitored. Once you are comfortable enough, you may return home. It can take up to three months to begin to notice the results of the surgery, and Dr September will arrange to see you for a number of follow-up consultations.