Facial paralysis is the loss of facial movement due to nerve damage. The facial muscles may become weakened and appear to droop.
Facial paralysis can occur suddenly such as with Bell’s Palsy or it can occur gradually over a period of months (in the case of a tumour). Depending on the cause, the paralysis may last for a short or extended period.
What is facial paralysis?
If you have suffered a trauma or disease which has resulted in damage to your facial nerves, this can result in a degree of facial paralysis. In some cases, this may repair naturally with time. However, when this damage reaches a certain level, your face may start to show signs of this paralysis, such as sagging or asymmetry. These side-effects can have a debilitating impact on your self-confidence and quality of life. While it is not possible to fully restore the nerves to their former capacity, through highly advanced techniques, it is possible for Dr Paul Gerarchi to restore your face to a more natural state. The resulting return to facial harmony and symmetry can be life-changing.
What causes facial paralysis?
Facial paralysis may be caused by a range of complaints, each with varying impacts. These include, but are not limited to:
- Bell’s/ facial palsy
- Birth trauma
- Lyme disease
Regardless of the cause of your facial paralysis, the results are similar and can have a profound psychological impact. Dr Paul Gerarchi is passionate about providing his patients with the very best possible care and treatment to help you improve your facial aesthetics and elicit a positive change in your life.
What is Bell’s Palsy?
No one knows exactly why Bell’s palsy occurs. It may be related to a viral infection of the facial nerve.
Bell’s palsy is the most common cause of facial paralysis. It causes inflammation of the facial nerve which in turn causes the muscles on one side of the face to droop. The most common symptom of Bell’s palsy is a sudden onset of paralysis on one side of the face, often accompanied by ear pain. The good news is that most people with Bell’s palsy recover completely within six months.
What is a stroke?
A more serious cause of facial paralysis occurs during a stroke when the nerves that control the facial muscles are damaged in the brain. Depending on the type of stroke, this damage can be caused by a lack of oxygen or excess pressure of the brain cells caused by bleeding.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that is transmitted to humans by the bite of a tick that is commonly found on deer. Around 11% of patients suffering from Lyme disease develop facial paralysis with 30% of those cases suffering from paralysis on both sides of the face.
What is congenital facial palsy?
Congenital facial palsy refers to babies who are born with facial paralysis. In the past when the delivery was performed with forceps, sometimes facial nerve injuries could occur but often the cause is unclear. Congenital facial palsy may appear also as part of a syndrome and involve one or both sides of the face.
Facial paralysis caused by tumours
Facial paralysis can be caused by a tumour. Symptoms may vary from an acute paralysis that does not improve over months to a slowly progressive paralysis that is often accompanied by abnormal facial twitching. The removal of the tumour itself may also result in facial paralysis though this inadvertent injury to the facial nerve is uncommon in the hands of experienced skull-based surgeons.
It is also possible for a tumour that grows close to the facial nerve to cause temporary or even permanent facial paralysis once removed. In some cases, the facial nerve may be altered to obtain clear removal of the tumour.
How can facial symmetry be achieved?
If you are suffering from facial palsy, Dr Gerarchi is able to remedy this to an extent, bringing your features back into better balance. However, it is important to note that it may not be possible to achieve an entirely normal appearance through this treatment; results will vary depending on your individual case. A noticeable improvement will certainly be achieved though. Dr Gerarchi strives to provide each patient with realistic expectations of their outcomes prior to surgery.
What does the procedure involve?
During your procedure, Dr Gerarchi may utilise a muscle relaxant to help treat the facial palsy. This can help to even out the face by making the muscle activity on either side of the face more even, whereby diminishing facial asymmetry in the process. This method can be used to achieve results for both minor and major facial palsy cases. Dr Gerarchi is also able to bulk bill these injectable treatments for facial palsy patients, meaning you may be eligible to receive them free of charge.
What is recovery like?
There is no real recovery period associated with muscle relaxant injectables to treat facial palsy. In fact, most of our patients have been able to return to their regular activities either the same day or the day after their procedure. You should notice a positive change to your appearance immediately following your procedure, and it will continue to improve.
The effects of your injectable treatment will last for several months before an additional injection is required to maintain your results. Dr Gerarchi will schedule follow-up appointments with you to continue to maintain your appearance with injections or to further enhance your results.
If you would like to request a consultation with Dr Gerarchi, or if you have any further questions regarding our facial paralysis treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us today