Free Functional Gracilis Flaps for Facial Reanimation in Elderly Patients

Andrew H. Lee, Rui Han Liu, Lisa E. Ishii, Patrick J. Byrne, Shaun C. Desai, Masaru Ishii, Kofi Boahene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: The free functional gracilis flap (FFGF) is a versatile procedure in reanimating the paralyzed face, yet its application in seniors is limited by perceptions of morbidity and inefficacy. Objective: The study objective was to compare the morbidity and effectiveness of FFGF reanimation among senior and younger patients. Design, Setting, and Participants: A retrospective chart review was performed on 20 consecutive patients aged 60 years and above (seniors) and 35 patients aged 40 years and below (juniors) who underwent FFGF for facial reanimation. Among this group, 16 senior and 22 junior patients with available long-term follow-up data were analyzed for functional outcomes. Main Outcomes and Measures: The length of postoperative stay and postoperative complications were compared with assess immediate results. A second analysis for functional outcomes was assessed by resting and smile facial asymmetry index (FAI), as well as maxillary dental display to compare facial tone and lip excursion. Results: The average age of seniors was 67 ± 5 years and that of juniors was 27 ± 10 years. Mean lengths of postoperative stay were 4 ± 2 versus 3 ± 1 days in seniors versus Juniors, respectively (p = 0.16). There were no intraoperative complications and postoperative complications in one (5%) senior and four (11%) juniors (p = 0.64). There was functional muscle recovery in all cases, with more pronounced correction of both resting (Δ3.0 mm vs. Δ2.4 mm, p = 0.66) and dynamic (Δ5.2 mm vs. Δ4.2 mm, p = 0.37) FAI in seniors than in juniors. Among patients who underwent a multivector FGFF, there was an additional three versus one visualized maxillary teeth (p = 0.03) in seniors versus juniors, respectively. Conclusions and Relevance: The FFGF is effective for facial reanimation among seniors and can be performed with minimal morbidity. Age alone should not preclude the application of the FFGF in seniors with a preference for more dynamic options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-186
Number of pages7
JournalFacial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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