Phoenix Neurosurgeon

Facial ReanimationPhoenix, AZ

Facial reanimation surgery is often necessary to treat facial paralysis. Patients with facial paralysis experience a loss of facial movement due to nerve damage. This symptom is most often associated with Bell’s palsy and sometimes resolves itself on its own. However, when this does not occur, facial reanimation surgery may be necessary.

Facial reanimation surgery is available at Dr. Randall Porter, M.D., in Phoenix and the surrounding area. We can help restore your range of motion. Call us today at 602-603-8951 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.

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Understanding Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis can affect one or both sides of the face. Ordinarily, the nerve controlling one’s facial muscles passes through a narrow opening of bone on the way to the face. This nerve is damaged in patients with facial paralysis, causing one or both corners of the mouth to droop and potentially making it difficult to retain saliva.

It can also be challenging for patients with facial paralysis to close the eye on the affected side(s) of their face. Depending on its cause, facial paralysis may have a sudden or gradual onset. For instance, Bell’s palsy comes on suddenly while tumors come on gradually. The cause also typically dictates the duration of the condition.

Causes of Facial Paralysis

Bell’s palsy is the most common cause of facial paralysis. This condition affects approximately 40,000 Americans each year. Bell’s palsy causes inflammation of the facial nerve, resulting in droopy muscles on one side of the face. As of yet, there is no apparent trigger for Bell’s palsy. However, experts suspect that it is related to a viral infection of the facial nerve. Most patients recover in around six months.

Stroke can also cause facial paralysis. This occurs when the nerves controlling the facial muscles become damaged in the brain. Depending on the type of stroke, brain cells may be damaged due to lack of oxygen or excess pressure caused by bleeding. In any case, brain cells may be killed within minutes.

A variety of other factors can also lead to facial paralysis. These include:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Head or neck tumor
  • Lyme disease
  • Middle ear infection or other ear damage
  • Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome
  • Skull fracture or injury to the face

Birth can also cause temporary facial paralysis. However, 90% of babies with facial paralysis recover entirely without treatment. Additionally, certain congenital syndromes may come into play. Our team can help pinpoint the cause of facial paralysis for each patient, allowing for the most customized treatment plan.

Diagnosing Facial Paralysis

As mentioned above, there are numerous possible causes of facial paralysis. Consequently, it is crucial for patients to discuss all of their symptoms with their doctor in as much detail as they can. They should also include information on any preexisting conditions or illnesses. As part of the diagnosis process, Dr. Porter may ask patients to attempt closing their affected eye(s), frowning, lifting their eyebrows, and smiling.

Blood tests, electromyography (EMG), and imaging scans can also help determine the cause of the patient’s facial paralysis. EMG tests can assess nerve damage and its severity by measuring a muscle’s electrical activity in response to stimulation. Imaging scans, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT), can identify various sources of pressure on the facial nerve.

Facial Reanimation Surgery

Since every facial paralysis case is different, there is no one treatment better than the other. Instead, each patient can benefit from a comprehensive approach. This includes considering factors such as the length, cause, and extent of their paralysis. In facial paralysis surgery, also known as facial reanimation surgery, a surgeon restores motion to the lower half fo the face using all or parts of muscles and/or nerves from other parts of the body.

Once a facial nerve has been injured, there is a specific amount of time in which it may be possible to restore lsot nerve function to the facial muscles. This involves transferring another nerve to the facial nerve. However, once the patient loses nerve function, the facial muscles will gradually degrade and weaken. Still, there may be options to restore movement and expression. Dr. Randall Porter, M.D., can discuss a patient’s best options during a one-on-one consultation.

Call Us Today

Dealing with facial paralysis can be frustrating. We at Dr. Randall Porter, M.D., can help. Call us today at 602-603-8951 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I speed up my recovery once I start experiencing facial paralysis?

First and foremost, contact us immediately. Dr. Porter may be able to prescribe medications and provide you with other relevant information tailored to your unique recovery needs. Afterward, you should take special care to protect your eyes at all costs.

How should I care for my eyes if I have facial paralysis?

Any type of facial nerve weakness can affect your ability to close your eyelids, making it of the utmost importance to protect the exposed eye. Otherwise, you run the risk of permanent damage. Close your eyelids completely when sleeping and blinking, using eye protection when necessary.

Am I at risk for Bell’s palsy?

While Bell’s palsy affects people of all ages and genders, it occurs most frequently in those aged 15 to 45 years old. Other risk factors include diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Preeclampsia, pregnancy, and upper respiratory ailments also play a role.

What is the facial nerve?

The facial nerve is the seventh cranial nerve. It is responsible for transporting the nerve fibers controlling facial movement and expression. It also transports the nerves involved in taste. It travels through five main branches, all of which affect a group of facial expression muscles. 

What is the prognosis for facial paralysis?

The answer depends on the cause. Most people recover from Bell’s palsy in six or more months regardless of whether they receive medical treatment, while those who have had a stroke require immediate medical attention. Some cases of facial paralysis are temporary, while others are permanent. Dr. Porter can give you the best outlook for your specific case.

Contact Us

Randall Porter, M.D. is located at
2910 N 3rd Ave Ste A
Phoenix, AZ

(602) 603-8951