Crystal Clinic Plastic Surgeons perform area’s first facial reanimation procedure

Derek Cody, M.D., a Crystal Clinic plastic and reconstructive surgeon, has performed the area’s first functional free-tissue transfer procedure to treat facial paralysis caused by damage to the nerves that control facial movement. This microvascular surgical technique offers hope to patients with facial nerve paralysis due to brain cancer or its treatment, or a viral illness such as Bell’s palsy.

With this facial reanimation technique, muscle tissue from the inner thigh is transplanted to the face to restore movement, function and symmetry. The muscle tissue is placed under the skin of the cheek using the same type of well-hidden incisions used in a facelift. Over the next several months, as the transplanted tissue heals and nerve function is restored, patients have marked improvement in their ability to blink, chew, drink, speak and smile. 

“Facial paralysis can be associated with surgery or radiation to treat brain stem tumors that are near the facial nerve,” Dr. Cody explained. “Along with the social stigma of facial paralysis, patients may also experience drooling, difficulty speaking or problems closing the eyes, which then reduces their ability to protect the eyes and can lead to dry eye and vision problems.” 

Dr. Cody has been performing facial reanimation for a decade. “Facial reanimation procedures are not widely available across the U.S., so it’s important for those living with facial paralysis to know we are here to help,” said Dr. Cody. “They don’t have to accept feeling self-conscious about their appearance or any of the physiological difficulties associated with loss of facial nerve function.”

To learn more, call Crystal Clinic Plastic Surgeons at 330-668-4065 or visit

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