Patient Experiences Great Results After First Step of Two-Part Facial Paralysis Surgery

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Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS, Director of the Facial Paralysis Institute, performed a cross facial nerve graft recently on a woman living with facial paralysis as a result of acoustic neuroma.

The sooner we treat the facial paralysis, the better. We want to do the nerve transplant before the nerve has completely atrophied, and Hela came to us just in time!

In 2011, 28-year-old Washington medical school student Hela Kelsch discovered she had a non-cancerous brain tumor known as an acoustic neuroma. After two surgeries and a round of radiation to remove the neuroma, Hela was left with permanent facial paralysis. It wasn’t until her sister saw Dr. Babak Azizzadeh on a rerun of The Oprah Winfrey Show that Hela realized there was a doctor who could help.

“My sister called me really excited saying, ‘You have to check him out!’ and that is how I learned about him,” said Hela Kelsch.

When Hela called Dr. Azizzadeh’s office, they were able to schedule her appointment, plan her surgery, and help her with the insurance process. Dr. Azizzadeh performed a masseteric to facial nerve transfer and cross facial nerve graft as part one of her treatment. About 3 months after the surgery, Hela was able to smile and close her eyes, which she had not been able to do since her acoustic neuroma was removed.

“Hela has experienced a great improvement in her facial muscle movement since the first surgery. In December, I will perform a gracilis muscle transplant as the final step in her facial reanimation procedure. The fact that she’s seen such great results with the masseteric facial nerve transfer, which is only the first step, is very encouraging,” said Dr. Azizzadeh.

Dr. Azizzadeh is known for his cutting-edge facial paralysis surgery techniques, and the cross facial nerve graft and gracilis muscle transplant have proven to be effective in facial reanimation for many patients living with permanent facial paralysis. After the onset of facial paralysis, it is important that the patient is treated within 2 years for best results.

“The sooner we treat the facial paralysis, the better. We want to do the nerve transplant before the nerve has completely atrophied, and Hela came to us just in time!” said Dr. Azizzadeh.

Since his extensive and prestigious training at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Azizzadeh has helped hundreds of people with varying degrees of facial paralysis. Dr. Azizzadeh is the director of the Facial Paralysis Institute and one of the leading figures in the field of Facial Nerve Paralysis. Dr. Azizzadeh has been recognized for his work on several occasions, and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and countless other media outlets.

Dr. Azizzadeh is trained in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, as well as Head & Neck Surgery, giving him a distinctive insight into facial nerve function and facial aesthetics. Dr. Azizzadeh also has extensive training in microsurgical facial reconstruction, which is often required for the treatment of people who are born with facial paralysis.

For more information on facial paralysis surgery, contact the Facial Paralysis Institute at (310) 657-2203.

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