Masseter To Facial Nerve Transfer

masseter facial nerve transfer

The Facial Paralysis Institute is home to the most cutting edge treatments and surgical procedures available for those suffering from Bell’s palsy and facial paralysis. Various medical issues such as acoustic neuromas, Bell’s palsy, trauma, parotid tumors, and moebius syndrome can cause facial paralysis.

Depending on the severity and longevity of the patient's facial paralysis, there are multiple options a person has for undergoing surgery to regain facial animation. Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS, expert facial paralysis surgeon, utilizes a variety of options including the masseteric-facial nerve transfer, also known as the trigeminal-facial nerve transfer, to help patients regain the ability to move the paralyzed side of their face.

facial paralysis surgery

Facial paralysis patients travel from across the world to have this procedure performed at the Facial Paralysis Institute in Beverly Hills. With Dr. Azizzadeh, patients are in the hands of one of the pioneers of surgical modification that leaves them with less synkinesis and a more dynamic smile.



Understanding The Masseter to Facial Nerve Transfer

The masseter nerve transfer (or trigeminal nerve transfer) has the ability to greatly improve facial reanimation for sufferers of permanent Bell’s palsy or complete facial paralysis. At the Facial Paralysis Institute, this procedure has had tremendous success in helping patients who have been experiencing paralysis for less than three years, though it is not limited to that specific longevity and greatly depends on the etiology and muscle activity.

During the masseter to facial nerve transfer, an experienced facial paralysis surgeon, like Dr. Azizzadeh, makes an incision near the front of the ear. The facial nerve and masseteric nerve are identified and sewn together under microscopic magnification. The masseteric nerve, which is used to activate chewing muscles, provides neural input into the paralyzed facial nerve, thereby restoring the facial muscle function and smile.

Generally, results can be seen over the course of several months following the masseter nerve transfer procedure.

Post Masseter Nerve Transfer

Following the masseteric-facial nerve transfer surgery (or trigeminal facial nerve transfer), the majority of patients will have a single overnight stay in the hospital. Patients can eat a regular diet beginning the very next day, with a 7-10 day recovery period. During the post-operative period, patients are asked to avoid:

  • Pressure to the affected cheek
  • Exercise
  • Heavy lifting
  • Vigorous brushing of the teeth

Motion resembling the unaffected side, meanwhile, often develops between the sixth and seventh post-operative months. Older individuals may require longer periods of time to achieve the desired function, but the end result is usually comparable to younger individuals.

The strength and control over the reconstructed smile continues to improve over several years. While biting down will initially be required to produce a smile, the brain has the potential to undergo a re-education process (cerebral adaption), resulting in the production of a naturally occurring and effortless smile over time. In addition to the potential for re-education, the masseter to facial nerve transfer, perfected by Dr. Azizzadeh, has several extra advantages over other nerve donors. The nerve has a high density of motor axons and the ability to produce a strong smile with the proper orientation. The permanent difficulties with speech and swallowing associated with more traditional nerve transfers are also avoided utilizing this technique.

Speak With Dr. Azizzadeh About Your Options Today

If you or a loved one is suffering from facial paralysis or long term Bell’s palsy and would like to learn more about the best options for facial reanimation and facial paralysis treatment, including masseter to facial nerve transfer and cross facial nerve graft, Dr. Azizzadeh encourages you to contact the Facial Paralysis Institute in Beverly Hills today to schedule your initial consultation by calling 888.470.6432. Dr. Azizzadeh is a board certified otolaryngologist with an extreme training and knowledge in performing facial paralysis surgery’s that can provide patients with the most optimal outcomes possible.

For additional information on the four types of nerve transfer procedures that can benefit sufferers of facial paralysis or Bell’s palsy, please contact the Facial Paralysis Institute today.

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Director, The Facial Paralysis Institute - Associate Clinical Professor - Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

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Dr. Azizzadeh’s facial nerve textbook is the preeminent textbook for doctors on the subject.