Simultaneous Reconstruction of the Lower Lip with Gracilis Functioning Free Muscle Transplantation for Facial Reanimation: Comparison of Different Techniques

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Background:Functioning free muscle transplantation is currently the gold standard for the reconstruction of facial paralysis, focusing more on the upper lip reconstruction rather than on the lower lip. This study aimed to compare different lower lip reconstructive methods when performing functioning free muscle transplantation for facial reanimation.Methods:A retrospective review of functioning free muscle transplantation for facial reanimation from 2007 to 2015 was performed. Patients were divided into three groups: in group 1 (n = 15), a free plantaris tendon graft anchored to the gracilis muscle was passed into the lower lip to create a loop within; in group 2 (n = 12), an aponeurosis tail of the gracilis muscle was attached to the lower lip; and in group 3 (n = 18), no suspension of the lower lip was performed. All patients had at least 2 years of follow-up. Outcomes were assessed by photographs and videos, including subjective evaluation of midline deviation and horizontal tilt and objective analysis of smile dimensions and area.Results:A total of 45 patients were included. Results from the subjective evaluation demonstrate group 1 patients having the best improvement (overall score: p = 0.004 and p = 0.005, Fisher’s exact test). The objective evaluation showed group 1 and 2 patients with better results compared with group 3 (horizontal component, p = 0.009; vertical component, p = 0.004; area distribution, p < 0.001, Kruskal-Wallis test).Conclusions:Both plantaris tendon graft and gracilis aponeurosis achieved better improvement in subjective and objective evaluations than those who had no reconstruction of the lower lip. In particular, the plantaris tendon graft can achieve the most lower lip excursion with overall improved symmetry.CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Therapeutic, III.

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