Addenbrooke's carries out first 'smile' operation on paralysed face

A Peterborough man has become the first in Cambridgeshire to undergo a procedure to "bring back his smile".

Mark Morris, 41, was left paralysed on the right side of his face after having a brain tumour removed in 2009.

The operation, called temporalis myoplasty, restores facial movement and was carried out by Dr Richard Price at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

He is one of the few UK surgeons trained in the technique which restores movement "in weeks rather than years".

Dr Price trained in the procedure in France where it was developed, and carried it out for the first time at Addenbrooke's on Friday.

'Less surgery'

"We used to have a technique that involved two lengthy operations separated by at least six months," he said.

"Following that, there still isn't any return of function for about three months."

Full results could take up to 18 months, he added.

The new operation involves moving a muscle from the side of the head to the cheek, instead of the more traditional method of taking one from the arm or leg.

"Since we now know that the muscles used for chewing also help you smile, moving this muscle from the jawbone into the cheek will allow patients to smile with much less surgery, and in a much shorter time," Dr Price said.

"Only a single operation is needed, with a short stay in hospital rather than the two-stage procedure previously performed.

"That required a week in hospital, and took many months to give an effect.

Image caption Mr Morris hopes the surgery will restore his smile enabling him to "show my teeth at last"

"The new operation should give the patient a smile within a few weeks, although it will take longer to learn to use the muscle perfectly."

Mr Morris volunteered to be the first person to undergo the operation at Addenbrooke's.

He said he hoped it would enable him to "get back everyday things that people take for granted".

"Eating is hard - even biting into an apple, for instance - I have to cut it in half so I don't chew the inside of my lip.

"At the moment I hate looking at photographs of myself. It's so important that I can smile again," he said.

Mr Morris said thanks to the staff at Addenbrooke's Hospital he felt "very lucky to be alive".

"It is time I put something back and to help somebody else out by being the first patient for this type of operation.

"I am really looking to being able to smile again," he said.

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