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The Smile Restoration Miracle

For patients who have experienced long-term facial palsy (usually longer than two years), the native facial muscles may no longer function due to the lack of nerve input over an extended period. We offer a solution to help you regain your smile and facial movement through our procedure for facial muscle transfer in Boston. This procedure involves transplanting a small piece of muscle from the inner thigh, known as the gracilis muscle, to the face. The gracilis muscle serves as a substitute for the muscles responsible for the ability to smile.

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What is the procedure?

Our gracilis-free tissue transfer in Boston, also known as a gracilis-free flap, is performed under general anesthesia for your comfort. Skilled surgeons make an incision on the affected side of your face that extends into the neck beneath the jawbone, following natural skin creases. Through this incision, they identify the blood vessels in your face that will supply the transplanted gracilis muscle once in place. A small incision is made along the upper inner thigh to harvest the gracilis muscle and its associated blood vessels and nerves. After harvesting the muscle and preparing the face for the transfer, the muscle is sewn to the upper lip on the affected side and connected to the blood vessels in your face and the nerve responsible for muscle innervation. 

Recovery time

Following your gracilis free tissue transfer in Boston, you will likely spend one or two nights in the hospital before going home. Discomfort in your leg and face, as well as facial swelling, can be expected, peaking around two to three days after surgery. Pain management is typically achieved with extra-strength Tylenol, supplemented with a small prescription for a narcotic pain reliever if needed. Patients can usually walk without trouble the day after surgery. The healing process varies, but patients may begin to see movement from the gracilis muscle sometime between 4 and 9 months after the procedure. At this point, you will work with one of our specialized facial nerve physical therapists to learn how to optimize your new smile and facial function.

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Why choose the Hadlock Center for Facial Plastic Surgery? 

When it comes to restoring facial nerve function and regaining your smile, experience and expertise are of critical importance. Dr. Tessa Hadlockis widely recognized as the most experienced facial nerve clinician worldwide. With a career spanning decades, she has dedicated herself to refining surgical techniques and achieving exceptional results. She has an unwavering honesty regarding success and failure rates. She is committed to ensuring her patients have clear expectations and an understanding of the procedure, recovery, and predicted outcomes.

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Dr. Tessa Hadlock and your journey to restoring your smile

As a Harvard full professor and a prolific author of hundreds of peer-reviewed articles, Dr. Hadlock is not only a distinguished surgeon but also a gifted patient educator. She simplifies complex medical concepts, empowering you to make informed decisions about your care. Dr. Hadlock's warm, engaging, and approachable demeanor sets her apart. You'll find yourself in a comfortable and welcoming office setting, free from the formality of a white coat or "airs." Her fluency in Spanish and French, along with proficiency in Italian and Russian, ensures effective communication with patients from diverse backgrounds.

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Our job isn’t over until the patient is smiling

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