The Facial Nerve Surgery That Finally Fixed Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s Lopsided Smile

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It seems that almost every major scandal from the 90s has gotten a modern reboot these days. From the American Crime Story retelling of the O.J. Simpson case to the Menendez Brothers’ recent Lifetime movie, but one notorious story from that era just got it’s very own happy ending and it wasn’t a made for TV movie. It’s been 25 years since the famous 1992 case of Amy Fischer and Joey Buttafuoco that left housewife Mary Jo Buttafuoco with a partially paralyzed face. Now, one plastic surgeon has given the 62-year-old mother of two a happy ending and a brand new smile.

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In an interview with Inside Edition, the 62-year-old survivor spoke about how the nerve damage to her face from the almost fatal shooting has made an impact on her life. “It affects your self esteem. It does when you can’t put on a bright smile,” she said. NewBeauty reached out to the surgeon who has helped fix Mary Jo’s smile, Beverly Hills, CA, facial plastic surgeon Babak Azizzadeh, MD, to find out just how he was able to repair the long-term nerve damage that gave Buttafuoco a lopsided smile.

According to Dr. Azizzadeh, the procedure he performed is one that is typically done on patients with facial paralysis or for those with conditions like Bell’s palsy (the condition Angelina Jolie was diagnosed with last year). “In the case of Mary Jo, I performed a selective neurectomy. It involves releasing the platysma muscle (which pulls the corner of the mouth down, preventing upward smile motion) and selectively decreasing the activity of the nerves that counter the smile mechanism to help get an upward trajectory of the mouth and improve synkinesis,” says Dr. Azizzadeh.

Synkinesis is the miswiring of nerves after a trauma. “This procedure allows for spontaneous reanimation of the face. In conjunction with her smile reanimation, I also performed facial rejuvenation to help Mary Jo look and feel her best,” adds the doctor.

In addition to the facial nerve rewiring, Dr. Azizzadeh also performed a facelift during the procedure. “Many patients opt to also undergo facial rejuvenation procedures at the same time. Facial paralysis patients have been through so much, it is great to be able to rejuvenate their appearance and boost their confidence all in one surgery.”

As the Inside Edition piece shows, the results of both procedures were a success and Mary Jo Buttafuoco has gotten her own true-life happy ending. “The results are typically permanent and my expectation is always to get the smile to be as symmetrical as possible and the face to be as beautiful and symmetrical as possible,” says Dr. Azizzadeh. 

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