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Facial Palsy (Facial Paralysis)

The term facial palsy refers to the condition where the nerve which works the muscles of facial expression (the facial nerve) is not working correctly. This can lead to a weak or absent smile; asymmetry of the face; difficulty with eye closure and drooping of the brow.

This condition has many causes; Bell’s palsy where the condition occurs spontaneously; following trauma or injury; following infection; following certain surgical procedures or as a congenital condition, that is where someone is born with a facial palsy.

The effects of facial palsy are commonly very significant and people with the condition often have difficulties which are physical, relating to how their face works and also in terms of how their facial appearance affects their interactions with other people.

The good news is that many aspects of facial paralysis can be successfully treated and improved. For partial or recovering facial palsy non-surgical treatments such as physiotherapy and Botox can improve symmetry and diminish abnormal facial movements. These abnormal movements are called synkinesis if one movement triggers another, commonly smiling triggering eye closure. The other similar problem is called dyskinesis where some of the facial muscles twitch involuntarily.

For people who have little or no facial movement at all with no prospect of full recovery, facial re-animation operations can be indicated. These include nerve grafting or nerve transfer procedures, where new nerve supplies can be imported to strengthen the weakened face. In some cases this is not sufficient in which case more complex operations involving free tissue transfer where a new piece of muscle is transplanted to the face might be advised. Sometimes muscle transfers can also be used to provide a smile or strengthen eye closure.

In cases where asymmetry of the face is severe even when the face is not moving, then other surgical procedures may be of benefit. These can include brow lift operations; facelift operations or in more severe cases static support procedures, where tissue from elsewhere in the body is used to provide a strong support to the sagging face.

If you wish to see Mr Morley to discuss treatments for facial paralysis then an appointment can be made via your GP to be seen at Mr Morley’s Facial Palsy Clinic which is on a Tuesday for adults and a Friday for children. If you wish to be seen privately Mr Morley consults at the Nuffield Hospital, Glasgow on Wednesday and Friday (0141 576 2718) and at Ross Hall Hospital on a Monday (0141 810 3151).