Ryder, a young boy from the Philippines recently underwent a life-altering surgery with facial nerve expert Dr. Babak Azizzadeh to help restore facial movement and to give him a chance at the radiant smile he deserves. In his first ten years, Ryder has already been through more than most people can imagine in a lifetime. He was born with a rare congenital disorder in which the bones of his skull didn’t fuse together properly resulting in a large sack-like growth on his face. After being abandoned when he was 5 years old, he was taken in by a ministry who did everything that they could to help. They arranged for surgeons in Manila to operate and remove his facial mass, however, the surgery came with some unfortunate side effects. Ryder was left with partial blindness, hearing issues, and facial paralysis.
Just a few years later at the age of 9, Ryder was adopted by a family from the United States who made it their mission to find specialists who could work to improve his paralysis. His new adoptive parents found Dr. Azizzadeh and the Facial Paralysis Institute and scheduled a consultation to find out if Ryder would be a good candidate for treatment. After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Azizzadeh determined that Ryder would benefit from a cross face nerve graft. In this two-stage procedure, Dr. Azizzadeh is able to utilize the facial nerve from the unaffected side of the face to create spontaneous movement on the paralyzed side. During the first stage of the procedure, Dr. Azizzadeh harvests the sural nerve from the ankle and attaches it to the normal facial nerve. This nerve will slowly grow across Ryder’s face throughout the months following the first procedure. Dr. Azizzadeh will follow up with Ryder in the months after the first stage operation, and when the nerve has reached the ideal length, he can have the second stage surgery. During stage 2, Dr. Azizzadeh will harvest the gracilis muscle from Ryder’s thigh and attach it to the nerve graft that has grown across Ryder’s face. The final result will allow Ryder to smile and move both sides of his face simultaneously. Ryder has already successfully undergone the first stage of the cross face nerve graft and is expected to have the second stage procedure in the next six to twelve months. The Facial Paralysis Institute feels so fortunate to have the opportunity to help Ryder and his new family and we are excited to follow his progress.
Learn more about Ryder’s story- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3S5FIE_MS4
Meet the surgeon:
Facial nerve expert Dr. Babak Azizzadeh helps patients from all over the globe who have varying degrees of facial paralysis. After his intense and extensive training at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Azizzadeh started the Facial Paralysis Foundation which offers information and support to those affected by facial paralysis. He is trained in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as head and neck surgery, which give him a unique insight into facial nerve function and facial aesthetics. Dr. Azizzadeh also underwent extensive training for microsurgical facial reconstruction, which is often required to treat patients who were born with facial paralysis. He has become recognized as a leader in the field of facial nerve paralysis and has been featured in many media outlets including appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Dr. Azizzadeh has authored five best-selling books and has most recently been bestowed the honor of hosting the International Facial Nerve Conference in 2017.