Anyone has facial reanimation surgery - mu... - Facial Palsy UK

Facial Palsy UK

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Anyone has facial reanimation surgery - muscle transfer?


Hi, I had facial reanimation surgery 2 weeks ago - a cross facial nerve graft and muscle transfer (anterior digastic muscle transfer from neck to lower lip), I know it's only been 2 weeks but I am shocked how big and bulky my chin still feels and I'm wondering how long it will take to go down. Seeing my surgeon soon - but I'm feeling so low was hoping anyone that has had similar surgery could let me know how they got on. Thanks in advance

6 Replies

Hi Vonson, I had my surgery over a year and a half ago now and totally understand what you're going through - the bulkiness is quite prominent at first but it does go down after around a month or so. I was also in this position and was feeling quite low during this time and posting on here really helped, you can access the thread through this link:

All the best, M.

vonson in reply to Wounded101

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I really hope your operation was a success and you are pleased with the results now? I was fortunate in that my facial palsy (which was result of a tumor when I was a child) was only my lower lip on one side and only apparent when talking or laughing. My mouth at rest looked completely normal and my smile was symetrical. Now my resting mouth looks droppy (on the op side) at rest and chin and jaw very prominent, my mouth looks v.weird when I smile or talk. I can't drink well either (no problems before op). The area under lip where muscle is, is so bulky and also really bulky under my chin. I wasn't warned of any of these issues prior to the op, obviously told about bruising & swelling and that they'd be no new movement until 6 months. But wasn't prepared for all this bulk or that eating/drinking would be impacted. I am seeing the surgeon this week. I hope all this is normal and not a sign the op has gone wrong. Reading this back I sound so sorry for myself, I know others have a lot more to contend with. My prayers are with you all that you'll get through your surgery.

Wounded101 in reply to vonson

Hi yes the surgery went well, I also had facial palsy after having a brain tumour removed (5 years ago, I was 15 at the time) and similarly, my face was symmetrical except when smiling, however now it has improved a lot and I can also smile a little and doesn't pull too much on the non-affected side. So yes the surgery was a success, however, I will still be having a third procedure to tighten the muscle to form the smile more spontaneously rather than having to focus every time or it doesn't work. It will be bulky for quite a while, for myself it took about 6 months for the 'bulk' to go down... I also delayed university for a year. Don't be worried I also stressed a lot but it's going well now, likewise, I'm sure it'll be fine and I hope you recover real soon.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions :)

vonson in reply to Wounded101

thanks, that's really helped me to have faith and not stress as much. I read up on the procedure i had - nerve graft & digastric muscle transfer - on facial palsy uk and it says "it may take up to a couple of weeks for swelling to fully subside", which is misleading. Made me think my op had gone wrong somehow. I saw the surgeon for my first follow up a few days ago - she said it will go down and to give it time. I'm only 3 weeks post op so I will need to be more patient.

It's fantastic to hear you are getting your smile back, you've been through such a lot, to have to have dealt with all that aged 15. I was 12 when tumor removed and i think being younger made it easier to cope with - as you are less self aware as a child.

I had no problem eating or drinking before, now I dribble a lot when i try and drink without a straw and my mouth opens on the op side when eating/chewong. Did you have these issues? I mentioned it to surgeon - she said it will go back.

Best wishes

scarve in reply to vonson

Hi Vonson, how does it feel 2 years after the op? I hope you’re good and happy with it? I’m 10 months post-op and it still gets me down, some good results as well as less good. Definitely misleading about recovery time. My swelling took well over 6 weeks to go down, I couldn’t walk properly for 4 or 5 weeks and didn’t feel able to socialize for 3 months. I had bruised nerves from the operation which caused eyelid droop, it eventually healed, but I was very worried about it. So, when they say you’ll be back in work after 3 weeks, it’s highly optimistic. I’m considering an op to de-bulk the cheek and lift the corner of the mouth more. I absolutely hate operations. It seems this is not a one-step operation, but actually a few... if I had known that I may not have done it.

We’ll see... I’m happy to talk to anyone and would like to hear from others’ about their experiences.

Wish you great joy!

I agree, especially as a teenager when social media/photography was common through high school and college it did make me feel anxious hence why I didn't really think twice before undergoing this surgery as I wanted to do anything to improve how it was - so you can imagine how shocked I was when it looked worse straight after!

I also had these issues with eating and drinking, and often ended up getting the inside of my cheek swollen too as it was bulky and end up biting it somehow and similarly, with the bulk you can't drink properly, but the plus side is now 1.5 years later I can drink better than before!

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