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Sensory Restoration of the Facial Region

Liu, Xiangia, MD; Daugherty, Robyn, MD; Konofaos, Petros, MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001635
Review Paper

Normal sensitivity of the face is very important for preserving its integrity and function as an efferent source of information for the brain. The trigeminal nerve, which is the largest cranial nerve, conducts most of facial sensory function through its 3 branches: the ophthalmic nerve (V1), the maxillary nerve (V2), and the mandibular nerve (V3). The trigeminal nerve may be damaged by a variety of etiologies including inflammatory disorders, brain tumor resection, trauma, iatrogenic injury, or congenital anomalies. Temporary or permanent damage can lead to numbness, lip-biting injury, corneal anesthesia, and, in the worst scenario, even blindness. Different age groups, mechanisms of the injury, and the time between injury and repair can affect the final result of the nerve repair. Unlike the well-understood facial nerve palsy, so far there is no universal approach to restore the facial sensory function. This article serves to thoroughly review the basic anatomy of trigeminal nerve, diagnosis of sensory nerve dysfunction, and attempts to establish a protocol for treatment and rehabilitation of affected patients.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN.

Received December 7, 2017, and accepted for publication, after revision August 6, 2018.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Petros Konofaos, MD, PhD, 1068 Cresthaven Rd, Suite 500 Memphis, TN 38119. E-mail:

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