For those with permanent facial paralysis, advanced surgical options can give them hope for restoring facial function. Joshua D. Rosenberg, MD, is one of the top facial reconstructive surgeons to offer complex facial paralysis surgeries that can improve the muscle movement and appearance of the face. One surgery that has had success in facial reanimation is a gracilis muscle transfer, a procedure that Dr. Rosenberg performs for his patients at his NYC surgical center.
What is a Gracilis Muscle Transfer or Transplant?
When long-term facial paralysis has occurred, the muscles in the face may atrophy. There may also be nerve damage that is irreversible. A gracilis muscle transfer is usually used with a nerve grafting procedure to restore nerve signals and muscle movement. The gracilis muscle is located in the upper inner thigh and has unique qualities. A small portion of the muscle can be transferred or transplanted in the face with the needed nerve, vein and artery.
During a gracilis muscle transfer, Dr. Rosenberg lifts the skin and tissue on the affected side of the face, similarly to a facelift procedure. The portion of gracilis muscle is harvested from the inner thigh or groin, then transplanted to the face. It is vital to ensure the transplanted muscle will have adequate blood vessels to restore circulation to the muscle tissue for healing.
Recovery from gracilis muscle transfers is fairly quick, usually within two weeks after the surgery. Over the next several months, muscle strength can improve and movement can begin to occur as the nerve transfer becomes effective. Facial function can slowly increase over the months and years that follow, with best results achieved through ongoing physical therapy.
If you have permanent facial paralysis and want to explore whether you are a candidate for gracilis muscle transfer surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Rosenberg. We have offices in NYC and Staten Island for your convenience.