Background: This article describes facial reanimation using the transfer of the trigeminal motor nerve branch of the masseter muscle (masseter nerve) to the facial nerve (masseter-to-facial nerve transfer). Methods: A retrospective review was performed of 10 consecutive facial paralysis patients treated with a masseter-to-facial nerve transfer for reanimation of the midface and perioral region over a 7-year period. Patients were evaluated with physical examination, direct measurement of commissure excursion, and video analysis. Results: All patients regained oral competence, good resting tone, and a smile, with a vector and strength comparable to those of the normal side. Motion developed an average of 5.6 months after masseter-to-facial nerve transfer, with 40 percent of patients developing an effortless smile by postoperative month 19. Conclusions: The masseter-to-facial nerve transfer is an effective method for reanimation of the midface and perioral region in a select group of facial paralysis patients. The technique is advocated for its limited donor-site morbidity, avoidance of interposition nerve grafts, and potential for cerebral adaptation, producing a strong, potentially effortless smile.
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