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It’s only at the first encounter that a face makes its full impression on us…

Dr. Matthew White can help patients affected by facial paralysis that is having an effect on both the function and appearance of facial features. Trauma, surgery, Bell’s Palsy, or genetics can all be catalysts for facial paralysis. The condition can also be caused by certain infectious diseases (herpes zoster, mumps, Coxsackie virus) or bacterial infections (Otitus media, Lyme disease). Patients suffering from facial paralysis can suffer from over-exposure of the eye, which can cause irritation as well as physical disfigurement.

Patients who are unable to close their eyes are also at higher risk for corneal infections and blindness.In addition, patients with facial paralysis may notice the corners of the mouth beginning to droop, eventually leading to drooling and speech difficulties.

In order to restore tone and muscle use to the face, our facial plastic surgeon performs procedures that target specific nerves impeding functionality. Dr. White can also apply Gold weights to the upper eyelid combined with lower eyelid elevation to reduce eye exposure. Once facial reanimation patients begin to regain function and appearance, self-esteem and confidence often increase as well.

To learn more about Dr. White and his facial reanimation techniques, contact our office today.

Facial Reanimation Benefits

The benefits of facial reanimation include:

Consider the following benefits the surgery has to offer:

  • Correction of upper and lower eyelid problems
  • Rebuilding of tone and muscle in the lower area of the face
  • The correction of drooping through nerve reinnervation
  • Enhanced functionality and aesthetics
  • Improved self-esteem


Anyone experiencing facial paralysis can be evaluated for candidacy for facial reanimation surgery. During the consultation process, Dr. White evaluates the bony and soft tissue structures of the face, the degrees of deformity and loss of function, and the patient’s age to determine the likely outcome of reanimation/reinnervation surgery for each potential candidate.

The timing of facial reanimation is also critical, as typically the sooner the repair is made, the better the results. In cases of facial trauma, it is best to see a surgeon within 3 days of injury to determine nerve continuity.

Facial Reanimation Procedure

There are three commonly used techniques for the facial reanimation process:

  • Direct Nerve Repair: Restoring spontaneous emotional facial expression by reestablishing nerve continuity (coaptation of the 2 nerve ends). This technique will be performed as long as the length of the nerve permits this type of repair.
  • Cable Nerve Grafting: In cases when direct nerve repair is not possible, nerves from other areas of the body (such as the ear or foot) can be used to graft facial nerves where needed. This technique usually results in numbness in the area where the graft was taken.
  • Nerve Substitution (Cross Grafting): If neither direct nerve repair or cable nerve grafting is a viable option, the facial nerves on the normally functioning side of the face can be connected to the facial nerves on the damaged side of the face. This technique can cause weakness in the donor side of the face; however, that may lead to more facial symmetry overall.

The Recovery Process

After surgery, patients will wear a head dressing for a brief period of time. Patients will be instructed to keep the head elevated while sleeping for a few weeks during the the healing process. The specific length of recovery will vary from patient to patient. Dr. White will also instruct patients individually on any necessary wound care and medication. Younger patients may experience better results more quickly than older patients due to faster nerve regeneration.

Contact Dr. W. Matthew White

To schedule a consultation with Dr. White, or to learn how facial reanimation surgery can help restore both function and appearance to your facial features, please contact our office today.


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