The facial nerve is responsible for creating facial expressions. When the facial nerve is paralyzed, the unfortunate victim finds him- or herself unable to convey joy, sorrow, and other emotions. The facial nerve travels from the brain through a long boney canal that passes through the bone in and behind the ear, called the temporal & mastoid bones; it comes out of the bone just under the ear and turns and goes towards the face where it immediately divides into five branches. Treatment of facial paralysis is dependent on the cause of the problem.
Causes of Facial Paralysis
• Tumors in the following areas:
- Ear – Acoustic Neuroma
- Parotid Gland – Usually Cancerous Tumors
• Congenital – Babies can be born with a paralyzed facial nerve
• Moebius Syndrome
• Neurologic conditions
• Infection in the Parotid Gland
• Bell’s Palsy
Bell’s palsy is a term used when the exact cause of facial paralysis is not identified. It is thought to be due to a viral infection of the facial nerve, but no one is certain if that is in fact the real cause. A large group of these patients get better on their own, but all patients are treated immediately with steroids and anti-viral medications such as acyclovir to assure a full recovery. The longer the treatment is delayed, the less likely it is for the nerve to fully recover. Seeing an ear, nose & throat doctor immediately is absolutely important to be treated immediately and appropriately. With appropriate and timely treatment only rarely do patient have paralysis. If paralysis does not show improvement after three weeks, it is absolutely vital that patients undergo imaging studies such as an MRI and/or CT Scan to make sure the cause is not a tumor or cancer. Unfortunately, many patients with cancers get diagnosed late because they are told “not to worry they only have Bell’s Palsy”. I emphasize, if after three weeks there isn’t significant improvement in the paralysis then the possibility of a cancer or other causes needs to be explored.
Facial Paralysis Treatment
Permanent facial paralysis can be surgically corrected or improved. Each facial paralysis case is different. Dr. Larian’s specialized training in reconstructive surgery, as well as his thorough knowledge of facial nerve and muscle structure, allows him to custom-design the most effective treatment plan for each individual patient. He considers every factor, including the cause or causes of paralysis, degree of paralysis, and duration of paralysis. The patient’s age, health history, and his or her functional and aesthetic goals are also important factors.
When treating facial paralysis, it is Dr. Larian’s goal to address both functional and aesthetic problems associated with the condition. He uses sophisticated reconstructive surgery techniques, including nerve and tendon transplants, nerve grafts, and free flap muscle transplants. Injectables, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic and Sculptra®, and facial implants are also invaluable reconstructive surgery tools for patients with facial paralysis.
The many techniques available allow Dr. Larian to restore symmetry to the patient’s face, eyes, and brows while improving his or her dynamic smile. Treatment for facial paralysis can also improve nasal breathing and oral incompetence while preventing eyelid irritation and long-term corneal damage. Treatment of facial paralysis is complex; please contact us so that we may facilitate your treatment plan.
Contact Dr. Babak Larian
If you would like to speak with our ear, nose, and throat surgeon in Beverly Hills, serving all of Southern California, simply contact our office today to schedule an appointment. Call 310.461.0300!