Facial Paralysis is not an easy thing to deal with at any age. Unfortunately, many children worldwide suffer from Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. The symptoms of Moebius syndrome are present at birth, which makes growing up with this condition a challenge both physically and emotionally, for the child and their parents. Facial nerve specialist Dr. Babak Azizzadeh has helped countless children with Moebius syndrome through a variety of surgical options. Since his extensive and prestigious training at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Azizzadeh has helped hundreds of patients with varying forms of facial paralysis. Dr. Azizzadeh founded The Facial Paralysis Foundation in 2003 which offers support and education to people affected by facial paralysis. Dr. Azizzadeh has become world-renowned for his facial nerve expertise and has been featured in various media outlets including the Oprah Winfrey Show. Dr. Azizzadeh is widely recognized for his results with microsurgical facial reconstruction which is often required for patients who are born with facial paralysis. Most recently, Dr. Azizzadeh has been asked to host the International Facial Nerve Symposium in 2017 which is considered one of the biggest honors in the field of facial paralysis.
What is Moebius Syndrome?
Moebius syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that is present at birth. It most prominently affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerve which results in difficulty moving facial and eye muscles. Patients with Moebius syndrome typically have trouble smiling, frowning, sucking, grimacing, and blinking their eyes. It can also be a challenge to move their eyes laterally. Additionally, Moebius syndrome can affect other cranial nerves that can cause skeletal, respiratory, and speech problems, just to name a few.
Moebius Syndrome Symptoms
The most prominent symptom of Moebius syndrome is facial paralysis. Unfortunately, children with Moebius syndrome can’t make standard facial expressions. They are unable to smile, frown, and raise their eyebrows. Aside from the physical difficulty caused by Moebius Syndrome, facial paralysis often creates extremely challenging psychological challenges as well. As children born with Moebius syndrome begin to grow up, they realize that their face works differently than those around them. Treatment options should be explored before the child enters school to help minimize the psychological ramifications that come along with this disorder.
Treatment for Moebius Syndrome
There are a variety of surgical procedures that Dr. Azizzadeh performs to help patients with Moebius syndrome. Most patients require a procedure called microsurgical trigeminal-gracilis muscle transfer. This procedure involves transfer of the gracilis muscle from the inner thigh to the face. It is attached to the trigeminal nerve which controls the muscles for chewing. This muscle and nerve transfer allows the children to control the movement of the face voluntarily. For this procedure, each side of the face must be performed in separate stages.
Typically, the first operation is performed when the child is 6 years old, and the second stage of the surgery is completed a year later. There are other surgical procedures that can be performed like a static suspension with tensor fascia lata, temporalis transfer, or eyelid reconstruction. A facial nerve specialist like Dr. Azizzadeh would need to assess the patient to determine what procedure would be most beneficial for them, given their medical history and type of facial paralysis.
Schedule a Consultation with Facial Nerve Specialist Dr. Azizzadeh
If your child was born with Moebius syndrome and you would like to explore treatment options, contact The Facial Paralysis Institute to schedule a consultation with world-renowned facial nerve surgeon Dr. Babak Azizzadeh.