It began one day when my wife was watching TV and saw the story of Mary Jo Buttafuoco on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Mary Jo had been shot in the face and suffered facial paralysis as a result of a shooting. My wife called me and said, “Babak you can help her, I know you can.” One event led to another and it seemed that all of a sudden I was helping this wonderful and courageous human being regain her smile.
At that time there were no other organizations that focused on individuals suffering from life-altering facial deformities caused by nerve damage and Bell’s palsy. As a facial plastic surgeon my emphasis is on the head and neck and, over the years, specific nerve grafting techniques and procedures have been developed that allow these patients to regain movement in the face.
The Facial Paralysis and Bell’s Palsy Foundation is a grass-roots organization that has grown due to the generous efforts of my patients, family, friends and strangers who really want to make a difference in these people’s lives.
Our organization is unique because we have a strong focus on support groups. These routine meetings are on-going and are a way for people with various facial nerve disorders to get together to discuss living and coping with their situation. It’s a wonderful way to increase awareness and create a support structure. One of the great things to come out of this type of support has been the willingness of many patients and their families to be able to share their story. Some have even been brave enough to share their stories on TV shows such as Oprah and The Doctors.
Facial reanimation surgery has been so gratifying to me personally. It also brings an amazing joy to my staff at work. It has helped us develop a better sense of team spirit due to its “give back” nature that is not necessarily felt when you are operating at a 100% aesthetics only practice. One of the most gratifying moments is watching the look of joy on a patient’s face as they examine their face after surgery. When they look at me and smile and their face is no longer as crooked as it was before is deeply moving.
AMAZING GRACE – THE GRACIE DORAN STORY
Gracie Doran suffers from a condition called Cavernous Hemangiomas. Several years ago while surfing at the beach with her family she suffered a rupture in the brain stem and had a stroke. Gracie had previously suffered grand mall but doctors had assured her parents that she would be OK. After the stroke, Gracie underwent emergency brain surgery to save her life but was completely paralyzed afterwards. She had to learn how to eat, speak and walk. All of which she has done with amazing courage, independence and grace. While Gracie is still disabled with partial right sided paralysis, she has undergone several surgeries with board certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of the CENTER for Advanced Facial Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills who is respected for his work with the Facial Paralysis and Bells Palsy Foundation. With a winning smile thanks to Dr. Azizzadeh, Gracie now leads the life of a normal teenager – laughing, swimming and flirting as she says on her Facebook page. Gracie is an inspiration to all of those around her and offers hours of her time to helping others in need, most recently as special ambassador of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
To see Gracie’s story on The Doctors TV Show visit both of the links below:
To learn more about Bells Palsy, Dr. Azizzadeh of the Foundation For Bells Palsy visit: www.facialparalysisinstitute.com