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Who is a candidate for 5-7 nerve transfer smile reanimation?

Before and After 5-7 Nerve TransferPatients who have had facial paralysis for less than 2 years are generally candidates for the 5-7 nerve transfer (aka masseteric-facial nerve transfer) to restore smile symmetry.

What is 5-7 nerve transfer smile reanimation?

The masseteric nerve is a nerve in the cheek which innervates the masseter, a chewing muscle. In the 5-7 nerve transfer, a branch of the masseteric nerve is connected to a branch of the facial nerve which activates the smile muscles. After the nerves heal, patients can smile by “biting down.” Dr. Miller has extensive experience with this procedure, and uses precise intraoperative nerve stimulation, allowing him to reliably identify the masseteric nerve and the branch of the facial nerve most likely to maximize smile while minimizing unwanted facial movements.

illustration of 5-7 nerve transfer

What to expect during 5-7 nerve transfer smile reanimation:

OI Smile

The 5-7 nerve transfer is performed under general anesthesia. We make an incision in front of the ear, similar to a facelift incision. The facial and masseteric nerves are identified and sewn together using a microscope. Patients typically go home the same day or stay one night in the hospital. After 3-6 months, patients will see movement return in their smile muscles. At this time, patients begin working with our therapist, Heather Davis Cuevas, to maximize smile symmetry. With practice, many patients no longer have to think about biting when smiling.

If you would like to schedule a consultation at the UNC Facial Nerve Center, please call 984-974-2255.