This holiday season, an eleven-year-old girl has a reason to rejoice that is really unique: her stunningly beautiful new smile. According to GoodMorningAmerica, 11-year-old Nicole Serna Gonzalez was born with a disorder known as unilateral congenital facial paralysis. This ailment affects just one side of the face. According to reports, she was unable to smile, blink, or display any other emotions because of the paralysis that affected the right side of her face.
It was previously explained to her parents, Sergio and Carolina Gonzalez, that the illness will get better or would totally repair itself on its own. Due to the fact that this did not occur, her parents decided to have her undergo testing. They discovered that a portion of one of her nerves had failed to mature while she was still in the womb.
They came to the conclusion that it was not something that would go away on its own and thus made the decision to seek treatment for it. Carolina remarked, “Because I believe there is something wrong with her, I did not want to repair her. I adore her grin previously. It’s just part of who she was.” But she wished for her daughter a life in which she would not be required to continue recounting her experiences.
A study conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that the illness affects two out of every one thousand children. Even more material regarding the ailment, mostly accounts of facial paralysis being treated, was the only thing that Nicole’s parents could discover online about it at all. On the other hand, Carolina discovered Dr. Patrick Byrne, who works at the Head and Neck Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, on YouTube. After making the trip to see Dr. Byrne, Nicole’s family learned that the facial paralysis she suffers from may be treated surgically by him.
It required a “huge leap of faith” on the part of the family. Even though they were terrified, they didn’t want their daughter to miss out on this “opportunity.” Sergio said that “for us as parents, it was very essential to do the most that we could and not regret it and not deny her the chance.” Sergio also stated that “for us as parents, it was extremely necessary to do the most that we could.”
They were informed that the operation would take 12 hours and that the effects would not be visible for between two and three years after the procedure. Byrne was aware of the significance that this procedure had for Nicole. He added that it truly has a tremendous impact on individuals when they lose the capacity to convey their feelings on their faces. “Not only does it have an impact on how you feel about yourself, but it also has a significant influence on how other people react to you. It is a tremendously challenging way to go through life since you do not receive the answers from others that the majority of us get in daily settings. This makes life a lot more challenging for you.”
At long last, on June 8th, 2021, the operation was performed. Byrne had a team that included an anesthesiologist and many nurses who aided in conducting a facial reanimation procedure. The operation simply consisted of removing a sensory nerve from Byrne’s leg and implanting it on Nicole’s face. According to reports, they carried out the procedure of tri vector gracious free tissue transfer for the very first time. They removed the gracious muscle from her leg, cut it into three slips, and then implanted the slips in her face, namely in the area beneath and around her eyes. Byrne said that once the artificial muscles begin to function, “we need to implant them in such a manner that they will not only function but also ideally look attractive and seem real.”
He went on to say that in the end, she would have what he described as a “nicely symmetric grin.”
More than a year has passed since her procedure, and Nicole says that her smile has become “wonderful” in that time. She said, “I believe it’s truly miraculous that my new grin has made me feel so much happier.” “When I grin, the side of my face moves, which makes me incredibly delighted with the way my face looks. Now I’m grinning from ear to ear.” She has high hopes that “those who suffer from facial paralysis” would be helped by her experience.