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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011 May;127(5):1909-15. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31820e9138.

Facial reanimation using the masseter-to-facial nerve transfer.

Author information

  • Center for Facial Paralysis Surgery and Functional Restoration, Institute for Reconstructive Surgery, The Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas 77030, USA. mklebuc@tmh.tmc.edu



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).


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.


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.


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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