Facial paralysis of the lower face presents severe functional and aesthetic disturbance to patients. The gamut of facial paralysis correction is diverse and must be tailored to the patient. When nerve repair or free functional muscle transfer is unavailable, regional muscle transfer has become a staple in surgical management of facial paralysis. Previous masseter transfers relied on orbicularis oris attachment, which may be atrophic, adhered, or lengthened. Using fascia lata grafts, we describe the senior author’s method of staged, split masseter transfer as a reliable method for reanimating the lower third of the face in appropriate candidates.
The staged, split masseter muscle transfer is a 3-part repair. The first stage places a hemioral fascia lata graft to act as an anchor reinforcement. The second stage transfers the split masseter muscle, suturing to the fascia lata reinforced oral commissure. The third stage, a reefing procedure, is performed 6 to 10 months later under local anesthesia to reinforce attachments.
Six patients underwent the staged, split masseter muscle transfer. Mean age was 43 (15–67) years. Mean time to surgery from onset of deficit was 174 months (3 months to 65 years). All patients had significant improvement over preoperative symptoms. Symmetry was restored in repose. On movement, commissure excursion went from 0 to 6.67 mm in the superolateral vector. Of the 6 patients, 5 required an average of 1.5 outpatient revisions to achieve satisfactory results on average of 4.67 (4–127) months after the final stage.
The staged, split masseter transfer is useful for restoring subtle reanimation in patients presenting with facial paralysis. The staged, split masseter transfer provides bulk and restores both static and dynamic function. We present a case series demonstrating excellent long-term functional results.