Facial Nerve Paralysis

The facial nerve controls movement of the muscles creating facial expression. This includes the brow, eye, upper lip, lower lip, and the neck.

Patients can have weakness in their facial nerve for many reasons, but most commonly due to tumours, trauma or inflammation. It typically causes the patient’s face to droop. Patients can be unable to raise the eyebrow, close the eye, smile, or retract the upper or lower lips. In some cases only part of one side of the face is affected.

In all cases of facial nerve palsy the underlying cause must be sought prior to any treatment. Once appropriately treated, the reconstructive approach then depends on many factors which include the duration of the weakness as well as patient preferences.

There are procedures which aim to improve the appearance of the face at rest and procedures which aim to improve and restore the ability to deliberately control and move the face. Procedures can include:

  • Restoring nerve supply to muscles which do not have nerve supply
  • Removal of tissue, repositioning of tissue and supporting tissues which are drooping
  • Importing new muscles to the face and providing a nerve supply for these new muscles

A/Prof Ferris has extensive experience in nerve reconstruction. If you have weakness of your face due to a facial nerve palsy, A/Prof Ferris encourages you to organise a consultation. Delay can sometimes reduce the number of available reconstruction options.

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