Scientific publications

Maximizing the Smile Symmetry in Facial Paralysis Reconstruction: An Algorithm Based on Twenty Years' Experience

Jun 1, 2021 | Magazine: Facial Plastic Surgery

Bernardo Hontanilla  1 , Jesus Olivas-Menayo  1 , Diego Marré  1 , Álvaro Cabello  1 , Cristina Aubá  1


Over the last two decades, the senior author (B.H.) has had an extensive experience with facial paralysis reconstruction. During this period, the techniques have evolved substantially based on the experience and after observing and analyzing the surgical outcomes.

The purpose of this article is to relay the lessons learned from the 20 years' experience and suggest an algorithm. In this retrospective study, we have included 343 cases of facial paralysis cases. Complete facial paralysis cases were 285 and 58 were incomplete facial paralyses, both requiring surgical procedures. Complete facial paralyses were divided in to short term (n = 83) and long term (n = 202). In total, 58% of the patients were women and 42% were men. The age range was 6 to 82 years.

The techniques employed were direct suture, nerve grafts, cross-facial nerve grafts (CFNGs), masseteric-to-facial nerve transference, hypoglossal-to-facial nerve transference, free muscle transplants, and lengthening temporal myoplasty to achieve the best symmetry after reanimation of unilateral, bilateral, complete, and incomplete facial paralysis.

The type of paralysis, objective measurements, the personal patient's smile, and the gender are key concepts to be considered before scheduling a dynamic facial paralysis reconstruction. For unilateral facial paralysis, the time of onset, the type of paralysis, the patient's comorbidities, and the healthy side status are some of the determining factors when selecting the correct technique.

The preferred techniques for unilateral facial paralysis are direct repair, CFNG, masseteric-to-facial transposition, and free gracilis transfer. For incomplete facial paralysis, the masseteric-to-facial nerve transference is preferred. In bilateral facial paralysis, bilateral free gracilis transfer is performed in two stages using the nerve of the masseter muscle as the source of innervation.

The authors provide an algorithm which simplifies facial paralysis reconstruction to achieve the greatest facial symmetry while thinking about the potential comorbidities and developing spontaneity smile according to the gender of the patient.

CITATION  Facial Plast Surg. 2021 Jun;37(3):360-369.  doi: 10.1055/s-0041-1722905.  Epub 2021 Jun 1