Children's Hospital Colorado

The Facial Movement Program

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The Facial Movement Program in the Department of Plastic Surgery at Children's Hospital Colorado treats kids with facial nerve disorders. Kids can be born with a facial nerve disorder or they can acquire it later in life from an accident or illness. Plastic surgeons at Children’s Colorado are dedicated to providing the best treatments with state-of-art equipment to kids, teens and young adults.

 What does the facial nerve do?

The facial nerve controls muscles in the face that express emotions like smiling, blinking or frowning. Without control of the facial nerve, muscles don’t function normally and may cause social problems. A child may not be able to smile on both sides of the face, or the eyelids may not be able to close.

How do we treat facial nerve dysfunctions?

Experts at Children’s Colorado’s Facial Movement Program treat facial nerve disorders with leading-edge microsurgical techniques to lessen scars and shorten recovery. Available treatments include:

  • Dynamic muscle transfer: To restore facial movement, surgeons transfer muscles to the face from another part of the body. The most common transfer is the transplantation of the gracilis muscle from the leg. Microvascular surgery is used to connect the blood vessels and nerves of this muscle to vessels and nerves in the face. Once healed, the gracilis muscle can contract, enabling the patient to smile.
  • Other procedures: Patients may benefit from other procedures that lift or tighten the face or eyelids or help correct any asymmetry. These procedures include slings (tissue placed under the skin to lift any tissue), upper eyelid weights to help eyelid closure, and botox injections to decrease the over-activity of some muscle contractions.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for facial movement treatment?

Our plastic surgeons are trained to treat kids

Treatment is directed by a group of plastic surgeons who are focused and specialty-trained to treat pediatric patients with facial abnormalities and concerns.

Experts in microvascular surgery

Our doctors are regionally and nationally recognized as experts in microvascular surgery, particularly in treating kids with facial palsy.

Patients have access to multiple specialists

Patients and families benefit from access to other pediatric specialists during pre-operative evaluation and post-operative recovery, including neurologists and specialists in rehabilitation medicine.

Conditions we treat:

  • Facial paralysis
  • Facial nerve palsy or Bell's palsy
  • Moebius syndrome