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Surgery for patient’s paralyzed face improves quality of life – first of its kind in Fort Bend

Sugar Land, TX - 9/23/2013

Jon Mathy, M.D., Mr. Gerald Goehring and Jennifer Lee, P.A.Jon Mathy, M.D., Mr. Gerald Goehring and Jennifer Lee, P.A.

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is proud to announce its first facial reanimation and rehabilitation surgery for a paralyzed face.  The procedure was performed by Dr. Jon Mathy, board certified plastic surgeon on staff at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.

Gerald Goehring had been living with a paralyzed face for about a year.  “When Mr. Goehring first came to see me, he was miserable,” said Dr. Mathy.  “Treatment of an aggressive skin cancer required sacrifice of the nerve that allows him to move the entire right side of his face.  He was grateful to have his cancer behind him, but his quality of life was poor.” 

“Without muscle tone to counteract gravity, his lower eyelid slid down his cheek leaving the white of his eye constantly exposed and irritated.  His cheek had fallen into his nose obstructing his breathing, and the corner of his mouth had fallen causing constant drooling.  He was unhappy with his appearance and had lost the ability to express emotion with half his face.”

Dr. Mathy completed the first of a series of procedures to address these problems in early November 2012.  “We sought to improve both form and function in all parts of his face.  For his drooping eyebrow, we performed a brow lift.  We helped him regain eyelid closure with a modified blepharoplasty, an operation to correct defects of the eyelid, including transferring a piece of cartilage from inside his nose to help prop up his sagging lower eyelid.  We opened up his nasal airway by resuspending his cheek with a deep plane facelift.”

Preoperative photo of Mr. Goehring with right facial paralysisPreoperative photo of Mr. Goehring with right facial paralysis

“His lips had descended so far he was experiencing oral incompetence.  He was having problems eating, and he had no ability to smile. For this, we did a functional muscle transfer. We borrowed a working muscle from another part of his face and transferred it to the corner of his mouth.  This is a great procedure because it resuspends his lips and restores the capacity to move his mouth.  It allows him to smile,” said Mathy.

“I already look and feel better,” said Mr. Goehring.  “Dr. Mathy and the staff at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital provided me with amazing care, before and after the surgery.   It’s been life-changing for me.”

Dr. Mathy’s unique background and experience allowed him to tailor Mr. Goehring’s treatment.  Our faces are so important for our sense of self, for engaging socially, and for supporting vision, breathing and eating. “It is gratifying to offer procedures that can help improve normal facial form and function,” said Dr. Mathy. In both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, the goal is all about improving the patient’s quality of life. “It’s been wonderful to give him back a sense of normalcy, and to offer continuity of care so close to home,” said Mathy. In addition to cancer patients like Mr. Goehring, other patients with facial asymmetry or paralysis due to stroke, trauma, or congenital deformities can benefit from this type of surgery.

Born and raised in Sugar Land, Dr. Mathy takes great pride in his community. After receiving his undergraduate degree at Duke University, his medical degree at Stanford University School of Medicine, plastic surgery training at Harvard Medical School, and additional fellowship training in head and neck surgery and microvascular surgery, Dr. Mathy returned to Sugar Land to be with his family and serve his community.

For more information about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit houstonmethodist.org/sugarland.