Background: Although they are traditionally reserved for "aesthetic refinement" in the latter stages of facial reanimation surgery, the author uses a variety of autogenous fascia lata grafts in a very aggressive approach as the primary therapeutic option in static facial rebalancing and/or in conjunction with dynamic muscle transfers to achieve architectural integrity and functional restoration of the totally or partially paralyzed face.
Methods: Forty-nine autogenous fascia lata grafts, harvested through serial incisions in the lateral thigh, were placed in 35 totally or partially paralyzed faces. The grafts were categorized by anatomical location: I and II, lateral lip in totally paralyzed and partially paralyzed faces, respectively; III, nostril suspension; IV, lower eyelid suspension; V, bimalar lower lip sling; and VI, platysma transfer/autogenous fascia lata extension for lower lip invagination.
Results: In all group I and II cases, static balance of facial architecture was restored at 4 to 6 weeks (after swelling resolved). Average lip commissure displacement was corrected to within 0.5 cm of the horizontal axis. Subjective functional improvement in speech, fluid retention, and chewing was immediate in all cases. In group I (n = 10; median age, 10.5 years), a 60 to 100 percent symmetrical smile was achieved with voluntary gracilis contraction of 3 of 5 to 5 of 5. In group II (n = 20; median age, 33 years), with 16 sling only patients, one to two grades of voluntary risorius and lip elevator motion were achieved in most. When accompanied by a temporalis turnover flap, both risorius and lip elevator function improved two to three grades. In group III (n = 5), inspiratory collapse was ameliorated in all cases and nasal flow improved subjectively 80 to 100 percent. In group IV (n = 4), scleral show and keratitis were improved in all cases. In group V (n = 6), improved oral competence was achieved in all patients. In group VI (n = 4), static lip evagination was achieved in all cases; voluntary lip depressor function was two to four grades improved.
Conclusions: Early placement of autogenous fascia lata restores static balance of the deeper facial architecture in repose. Functional improvement of chewing, fluid retention, speech articulation, smile symmetry, and ectropion is immediate. The psychological effect is also immediate, with achievement of self-esteem and acceptance by family and peers.