Nerve grafts:
a patient's story

My original surgery for a 2.5 cm AN was done in May of 96. Although my facial nerve wasn't cut, there was so much trauma that the nerve never recovered. I researched and pondered, went to the symposium last July, and then mulled it over for a few more months. I made the decision to go for the full nerve graft. I had the hypoglossal anastomosis procedure last November. It's been just over 3 months now and as of about a week ago, I am able to move the left side of my face. Right now, its only a slight move, but the improvement is noticeable. Needless to say, after 20 months of waiting, I was thrilled!

My original fear was affected speech (or that it wouldn't work at all). People who hear me tell me I sound the same as I did before surgery. I do notice a slight difference in how I speak. The tongue moves differently, but you get used to it. For the first few weeks, I bit my tongue frequently, but now its only occasionally. The surgery was a snap (it doesn't even compare to the first one). I was in on a Friday morning, and out by Sunday morning. My surgeon was ready to let me go Saturday night, but I wanted to make sure I could eat solid food. I was off work for a week and got back to normal very quickly.

Its a weird procedure, and sometimes I feel like a guinea pig, but its all about tradeoffs. I would rather have an inconvenienced tongue than a droopy face. For the first time in a very long time, I don't think I look as obviously disfigured. It's not done correcting, but I feel very positive that its on the right track.

Last Edited: Wednesday, October 30, 2002