BACKGROUND: Depressor anguli oris muscle hypertonicity in synkinetic facial paralysis patients may have an overpowering antagonistic effect on facial symmetry. Depressor anguli oris muscle block is a crucial diagnostic test before any treatment planning. Presented is the largest patient cohort analysis to date on static and dynamic facial symmetry changes after depressor anguli oris muscle block. METHODS: Unilateral synkinetic patients with depressor anguli oris muscle hypertonicity were included. Resting symmetry and smile modiolus angle, excursion, and exposure of teeth were measured on both synkinetic and healthy hemifaces before and after depressor anguli oris muscle block using Emotrics and FaceGram photographic analyses. RESULTS: Thirty-six patients were included. Before depressor anguli oris block, resting modiolus height was elevated on the synkinetic side (p = 0.047). During open-mouth smile, reduced modiolus angle (p < 0.0001), modiolus excursion (p < 0.0001), and exposure of teeth (p < 0.0001) were observed on the synkinetic hemiface. After depressor anguli oris block, resting modiolus height became symmetric (p = 0.64). During open-mouth smile, modiolus angle and exposure of teeth significantly increased (both p < 0.0001); excursion did not improve on the synkinetic side (p = 0.13) but unexpectedly improved in open-mouth smile on the healthy side (p = 0.0068). CONCLUSIONS: Depressor anguli oris muscle block improved resting symmetry and modiolus angle and exposure of teeth during smile, demonstrating the inhibitory mimetic role of a hypertonic depressor anguli oris muscle in synkinesis. It is a critical diagnostic and communication tool in the assessment and treatment planning of depressor anguli oris muscle hypertonicity, suggesting the potential effects of future depressor anguli oris myectomy. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, IV.
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