Facial animation is an essential part of human communication and one of the main means of expressing emotions, indexing our physiologic state and providing nonverbal cues. The loss of this important human quality due to facial paralysis can be devastating and is often associated with depression, social isolation and poor quality of life. Interruption of the neuromuscular pathway from the facial motor cortex to the facial muscles is the common causative factor in facial paralysis resulting from various etiologies. Restoring tone, symmetry and movement to the paralyzed face requires timely nerve grafting intervention in cases of reversible paralysis and the transfer of functional muscle units in irreversible paralysis. We review recent advances in these techniques.
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