Individuals sometimes fully recover from Bell’s palsy, while others continue to experience smile asymmetry, issues with chewing, or eye, facial, or neck tightness and pain, a condition known as synkinesis. Plastic surgeons at The Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery in Austin, Texas, help patients struggling with the effects of Bell’s palsy or synkinesis. Following treatment, patients are happier with their appearance, which leads to an increase in self-esteem.
WHAT IS BELL’S PALSY?
Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes facial weakness or paralysis. Sudden facial nerve weakness causes one side of the face to droop and sag, preventing normal facial expressions on that side of the face. People of all ages can get Bell’s palsy, and it can range in severity. Some people only experience mild weakness, while others develop total facial paralysis.
In addition to preventing normal facial expression, Bell’s palsy can cause other signs and symptoms of facial paralysis. These may include headache or pain on the affected side of the face, drooling, changes in tear and saliva production, trouble eating and drinking, as well as changes in taste. Many people are self-conscious about going out in public while they are suffering from Bell’s palsy symptoms.
WHAT CAUSES BELL’S PALSY?
The condition is thought to be caused by an inflammation of the 7th cranial nerve, which controls the facial muscles. Many people develop Bell’s palsy after a viral infection, such as herpes, flu, mumps, measles, shingles or hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
Although anyone can get Bell’s palsy, there are some risk factors. Pregnant women, as well as people who have diabetes, or an upper respiratory infection are more likely to experience inflammation of the facial nerve. While many people recover from Bell’s palsy without treatment, complications like eye damage, permanent damage to the nerve, or issues with nerve fiber regrowth can occur.
DIAGNOSING BELL’S PALSY
In many cases, testing isn’t required to diagnose Bell’s palsy. You may be asked to try moving your face so that the doctor can observe any paralysis that may be present. You might also be given a CT scan, an MRI, or electromyography, which can evaluate nerve damage.
Bell’s palsy isn’t the only condition that can cause facial paralysis, and your primary doctor may need to rule out more serious causes of the issue. Usually, the diagnosis is made after other potential causes are eliminated as possibilities. If you are diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, you can talk to your doctor about the next steps.
Many people recover from Bell’s palsy within weeks or months, even without treatment. However, treatment can sometimes speed up recovery or help prevent complications.
Potential treatments include:
- Corticosteroids:Medications like corticosteroids can help to reduce inflammation, allowing the nerves to recover faster.
- Physical therapy and antiviral medications:Some patients also benefit from physical therapy and antiviral medications. Patients often need to wear an eye patch or otherwise protect their eye on the affected side, as the lid may not fully close.
- Non-surgical and surgical treatments:If the effects of Bell’s palsy persist after six months or so, patients may benefit from non-surgical and surgical treatments to improve facial symmetry. Our surgeons specialize in treating this group of patients who do not fully recover from Bell’s palsy or develop synkinesis. This may include non-surgical treatments such as fillers or neuromodulator (e.g., Botox), or a surgical treatment.
- Botox:In some cases, Botox can also be used to help relax muscles in the normal side of the face, or to control facial movements that can occur after recovering from Bell’s palsy (synkinesis). Botox is frequently used for other cosmetic purposes, such as relaxing facial muscles for wrinkle control, but can be an effective therapy for Bell’s palsy patients.
- Facial surgery:can help patients look more like their old selves and can help them to feel more confident and expressive. Generally, these procedures are performed by a skilled facial plastic surgeon. The surgery may focus on just one area, like the brows or eyelids, or it may involve the entire face.
Our surgeons offer several customized surgical options for individuals with Bell’s palsy or synkinesis. A patient may need selective neurolysis, which is a facial nerve surgery designed to decrease the activity of the muscles that are causing the abnormal facial movements, pain, and tightness. Other individuals may require repositioning of asymmetrical facial tissues. This procedure is called symmetrical facial repositioning; nonetheless, to provide the patient with the results he or she desires, sometimes the patient needs to have a combination of procedures.
ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR FACIAL NERVE SURGERY?
Because Bell’s palsy often resolves on its own, not all patients require surgery. However, if symptoms persist and nerve damage continues to affect facial movements, facial nerve surgery may be the best option. Otherwise, healthy men and women may qualify for the procedure.
It’s important to note that facial nerve surgery is a challenging surgery that requires patients to have realistic expectations. Procedures to balance out and symmetrize the face can yield impressive improvement, but the results will never be perfect. Most patients are thrilled with their results, however, and feel the surgery is worthwhile.
YOUR BELL’S PALSY & SYNKINESIS TREATMENT CONSULTATION
If you have been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy or Synkinesis, and you are seeking treatment, it is essential to get help from a skilled facial plastic surgeon. The surgeon you choose must have extensive knowledge and experience performing procedures to address these two conditions. At The Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery in Austin, Texas, experienced surgeons address the signs and symptoms associated with both of these conditions.
During your consultation at The Buckingham Center, you’ll be asked about your history with Bell’s palsy or synkinesis, including when you were diagnosed. You should tell the doctor about any treatments you have already had, as well as what your goals are.
The surgeon will examine you and make a treatment recommendation. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Come to your meeting prepared with a list of questions you’d like to ask, so you can get the most out of your appointment.
THE FACIAL RECONSTRUCTION PROCEDURE
Depending on the type of facial surgery you will be having, you may need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment. If your treatment is limited to Botox injections, you can go to your appointment alone.
Each facial surgery is different. You may need facial implants, a lip or eyelid lift, facelift, or nerve surgery to restore your appearance after Bell’s palsy. Incisions will be placed discreetly, and the goal will be to create a natural appearance and improved function. Both sides of the face may require surgery to ensure a balanced and symmetrical appearance.
You will receive information on how to prepare for your procedure and what to expect during recovery. It’s very important to follow all the pre- and post-operative instructions that the doctor and staff provide. This will help to ensure good results and reduce your risk of developing complications.
RISKS OF FACIAL NERVE SURGERY
Any plastic surgery procedure involves risks. If you are considering facial nerve surgery, it’s essential to understand the potential complications. The surgeon will go over the risks before your procedure. These will vary depending on your surgical plan, but may include:
- Anesthesia complications
- Poor healing
- Unfavorable scarring
- Facial nerve damage
- Unsatisfactory improvement
The good news is that risks are minimal when working with the skilled surgeons at The Buckingham Center. Our doctors make safety a top priority, and their experience reduces the likelihood of a patient experiencing a complication. Even so, patients need to be aware of the risks before moving forward with surgery.
Our glowing reviews and excellent reputation has led to individuals in the Austin area, and beyond, choosing the surgeons at The Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery to perform their procedures. Patients who need facial nerve surgery will have peace of mind knowing that our surgeons consistently enhance and update their skills.
BELL’S PALSY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long can Bell’s palsy last for?
What are the best treatments for Bell’s palsy?
Should I wait to see if my Bell’s palsy resolves on its own?
Can children get Bell’s palsy?
How long will my recovery be after facial reanimation surgery?
Can Bell’s palsy come back?
YOUR OPTIONS FOR BELL’S PALSY TREATMENTS
To schedule a Bell’s palsy facial reanimation consultation at Buckingham Center in Austin, Texas, call our offices today at 512.401.2500. Our friendly staff is standing by to guide you through the process.
- Bell’s Palsy
- Chemical Peel
- Chin / Cheek Augmentation
- Chin Liposuction
- Earlobe Reduction
- Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
- Endoscopic Forehead Lift
- Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)
- Mini Lift
- Facial Asymmetry
- Facial Fat Transfer
- Limited Incision Facelift
- Lip Enhancement
- Lip Lift
- Nasal Obstruction
- Neck Lift
- Revision Rhinoplasty
- Scar Repair
- Skin Cancer
- Facial Trauma