On the surgical treatment of facial paralysis in the early nineteenth century

Robert C. van de Graaf*, Jean-Philippe A. Nicolai

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    The treatment of facial paralysis is generally considered to have been nonsurgical until the end of the nineteenth century. However, the authors discovered recently that already in the 1840s the celebrated German facial reconstructive surgeons Dieffenbach and von Langenbeck applied the technique of subcutaneous myotomy to healthy facial muscles to reestablish balance in the chronically paralyzed faces of their patients. They performed their operations at a time when anesthesia, asepsis, antisepsis, and antibiotics had not yet been introduced into surgery. It is concluded that Dieffenbach and von Langenbeck were the first, in recorded history, to develop a surgical way to treat irreversible facial paralysis. As their principles are still being used in surgical practice, they cannot be regarded as antiquated, which illustrates the difficulties that reconstructive surgeons still experience in the treatment of irreversible facial paralysis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)475-480
    Number of pages6
    JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb-2008
    Event5th European Congress of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery - , Greece
    Duration: 1-Sep-2004 → …


    • MUSCLE

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