What is facial paralysis surgery?
Facial paralysis surgery or reconstruction refers to a series of reconstructive procedures that are designed to restore symmetry of the face following Bell's palsy, trauma, or congenital absence of the facial nerve. Dr. Andre Panossian is an internationally-recognized expert in the treatment of facial paralysis and addresses virtually all causes of facial nerve disorder. There are many ways to categorize the causes of facial paralysis, but most are based on facial nerve injury, compression, or inflammation. The facial nerve can be injured anywhere along its path from the brainstem all the way into the facial muscles themselves. There can be partial paralysis (facial weakness with some facial movement) or complete paralysis (absolutely no movement). Facial paralysis can affect one side or both sides of the face. It can also be characterized as congenital (existing from birth) or acquired (or, occurring later in life).
"You no longer need to live with facial paralysis. There are state-of-the-art options available for virtually every person and at every step of the way."
What do I do next?
If you have facial paralysis, contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Panossian. He will perform a thorough evaluation at the time of your consultation and develop a treatment plan based on your unique situation. Additional diagnostic studies may be recommended. Treatment plans may include anywhere from simple observation to innovative surgical interventions, depending on the underlying reason for your facial paralysis and its severity.
In addition, Dr. Panossian advocates early monitoring and intervention for newly diagnosed cases of facial paralysis. Early treatment is highly desirable in order to experience the greatest improvement and the best aesthetic outcome.
Bell's palsy is the most common cause of facial paralysis. There is no single known cause of Bell's palsy. It is most often associated with facial nerve swelling and inflammation similar to what can occur during a viral illness. Most cases of Bell's palsy will resolve on their own, but in approximately 30% of individuals, it may persist.
Perhaps one of the most common congenital reasons for facial paralysis that Dr. Panossian treats is Moebius syndrome. In this condition, absence of the facial nerve on both sides of the face is commonly seen. Dr. Panossian has developed a unique surgery to animate the smile for these courageous individuals.
Tumors and acoustic neuromas can affect the facial nerve indirectly along its course and cause facial paralysis. These tumors often arise from adjacent nerves that are in close proximity to the facial nerve and can create a compressive effect as they enlarge. Sometimes, removal of acoustic neuromas and other tumors may impact the facial nerve.
Facial Nerve Trauma
Trauma to the facial nerve of any type can cause facial paralysis. Whether the nerve is cut or bruised, function of the facial nerve will be impaired either temporarily or permanently depending on the degree of injury. Early surgery will re-establish nerve function when the nerve is cut or irreversibly damaged.
When facial nerve recovery is disorganized, it can sometimes cause synkinesis. This refers to the abnormal re-wiring of the facial nerve that can happen as facial paralysis resolves. This is most commonly seen after slow recovery of Bell's palsy. Although it can be quite pervasive, treatment with Botox® and surgery can offer relief.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
This curious condition demonstrates shingles-like symptoms involving the ear and the facial nerve. It is, in fact, caused by the herpes zoster virus that is responsible for chicken pox and shingles. The symptoms can also affect hearing. Most often, the symptoms will resolve on their own. However, surgery may be required if facial paralysis persists.
Dr. Panossian has received the highest honor bestowed by the Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Journal, the pre-eminent publication of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Read about his ground-breaking smile reanimation technique.
Treatment for facial paralysis has come a long way over the last two decades. No longer do patients have to live with facial paralysis or asymmetry due to facial weakness. However, facial paralysis represents a race against time under many circumstances. Inflammed or injured nerves, whether facial nerve or another nerve, goes through a process of degeneration, then regeneration. If the process is impeded or slowed, then the likelihood of full recovery diminishes.
In our practice, we advocate EARLY treatment of suspected facial nerve injury in order to achieve maximal recovery. From the moment you discover facial weakness or paralysis, whatever the reason, contact our office as soon as possible. There are interventions that can be performed early on to reverse facial paralysis. However, we realize that much advice currently available online or at your doctor's office may be out of date. To avoid confusion, feel free to contact our office ahead of your consultation, if you need your questions answered.