Our facial movements and expressions offer as many important ways to convey our thoughts, emotions, and needs as our words. Unfortunately, facial paralysis due to a medical condition or injury can be a limiting factor for many. Facial reanimation surgery is designed to restore these essential functions. Dr. Brittany Leader is a leader in performing this intricate and specialized procedure in Palo Alto. Highly skilled, trained, and experienced, Dr. Leader also possesses a deep personal commitment to her patients and their well-being and quality of life.
Facial reanimation surgery aims to restore or replace facial nerve and muscle function and improve facial symmetry, both at rest and in motion. In addition to the emotional stress caused by any form of facial paralysis, patients may have difficulty eating, drinking, and articulating some words. They may also develop significant eye problems due to their inability to blink or close their eyes. Reanimation surgery may be medically appropriate when a damaged facial nerve does not recover, or a patient is born with a non-functional facial nerve. Causes of facial nerve and muscle dysfunction include congenital conditions and acquired causes such as cancer, benign tumors, traumatic injury, or infectious disease.
If you have partial or complete facial paralysis, you may benefit from this surgery. Dr. Leader will assess your facial nerve function and can suggest both non-surgical and surgical options for those who cannot smile symmetrically, have difficulty with eye closure, and experience issues with eating and drinking.
Facial reanimation surgery requires surgical expertise that only comes from years of training and experience. Dr. Leader is fellowship-trained by some of the top facial plastic surgeons in the world and has devoted years of study and research to facial anatomy and function. She excels at precise and detailed surgeries like facial reanimation and looks forward to caring for you.
Dr. Brittany Leader will want to know the cause of your facial paralysis, its onset and duration, previous surgeries or treatments, and prior test results. Additionally, Dr. Leader will test your facial movement by examining your facial symmetry at rest and with movements such as eye closure, smiling, and lip puckering.
Specific surgical goals and techniques will depend on the cause and duration of your loss of function. Surgery can restore movement by powering damaged nerves with other functioning nerves or weakening nerves, which are counterproductive to normal facial movement. Some patients may need nerve or muscle grafts from the face or other parts of the body to restore function based on the activity level of their facial nerves and muscles and the duration of time since the loss of function. There are many different treatment options available, so Dr. Brittany Leader will be able to truly customize your care plan based on your needs and goals. Facial reanimation may require only one surgery, but based on your treatment plan, some patients may require two operations, typically separated by nine to 12 months.
Most facial reanimation surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. Some more complex surgical procedures may require a one to two-night hospital stay. Normal activities may be resumed in four weeks. Dr. Leader will recommend specific facial exercises and may recommend a specialized facial movement therapist to assist in your recovery.
Advances in microsurgery and recent developments in the understanding of post-facial paralysis nerve recovery have produced techniques and results not previously possible. Some patients may see immediate results, but for many patients, it can take up to a full year to see the final results while the nerves fully heal from the procedure.
Our facial movements convey our humanity and are essential to our physical, mental, and emotional health. At Illuminate Plastic Surgery, helping you is our passion. We’re here, serving Palo Alto, San Jose, and the entire Bay Area.
There will be some discomfort, but most post-surgical pain is well controlled with OTC pain relievers. Dr. Leader, however, can also prescribe stronger medication as needed and appropriate.
All surgeries carry risks, including infection, bleeding, poor wound healing, adverse reaction to anesthesia, allergic reaction to medications, and nerve damage. Dr. Leader will review these risks during your consultation and determine the best course of action to mitigate them as part of your surgery plan.
Yes. Some patients with complex medical conditions may not be candidates for this surgery. Dr. Leader will review your medical history during your consultation and help determine if facial reanimation surgery is right for you. If not, she will help you find other potential treatments.
This depends on your insurance policy and coverage. Many patients do have some coverage for this treatment. Our team will assist you in identifying what coverage your insurance will provide.
Depending on the cause of your facial paralysis, there may be non-surgical options that will help you as well. Dr. Leader will review those with you at the time of your consultation.
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At Illuminate we’re with you during every step of your journey toward greater self-confidence. Schedule a consultation with us today and let Illuminate’s expert team listen to your concerns and guide you through treatments and procedures to help you reach your individual goals. We look forward to seeing you and celebrating your renewed appearance and realized potential.