Imagine not being able to return a smile because of your mouth's appearance. Now a state-of-the-art "facial reanimation" procedure developed by plastic surgeons is about to change that 'disability'.
"A smile is a universal greeting and it's often the starting point for all social interactions," said Richard D'Amico, president, American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
"Unfortunately, some people cannot smile or are too self-conscious because of a defect, droopiness or wrinkles around the mouth, or protruding gums. The inability to smile can be devastating to a person's self-image."
Facial reanimation treats two types of people: those who are born without the ability to smile on one or both sides of their face and those who, due to traumatic accident, tumour or illness, like Bell's palsy, can no longer smile, according to ASPS release.
Many life-changing, successful "facial reanimation" procedures are being performed at the Facial Nerve Programme at Duke University, which began with the arrival of ASPS member surgeon and "smile" course instructor Jeffrey Marcus, six years ago.
Marcus and his partner, Michael Zenn - ASPS member surgeon and fellow "smile" course instructor - developed the multi-disciplinary programme at Duke.
"The simple return of a smile creates a brief mutual connection. When we can't do that, it can lead others to misinterpret our mood, intelligence or intentions," said Marcus. "Facial reanimation surgery gives those who never could smile or those who have lost the ability, the power to communicate."
Besides reconstructing a smile, rejuvenating the ageing or unattractive smile is a facial area that has not been commonly discussed. "Restoring a smile's motion is only the start of making a beautiful smile", said Andrew Wexler "smile" panelist. "The beautiful smile is a complex combination of lip and dental anatomy, which creates an aesthetic balance we view as beautiful."
The procedure will be presented at the forthcoming ASPS conference in Chicago.