What is facial paralysis?

Facial movements are controlled by a complex network of muscles and nerves. Interruptions to this network can result in difficulties with facial expression and can also impact the ability to eat, drink, and speak clearly. Some people who experience facial paralysis do not recover movement, while others develop involuntary muscle movements and spasms of the facial muscles known as synkinesis (the abnormal tightening of facial muscles). 

Synkinesis may occur after facial nerve paralysis, resulting in facial asymmetry, tightness, and discomfort. Facial paralysis can occur for numerous reasons, and can impact individuals of all ages. The most common causes of facial paralysis include Bell’s palsy, acoustic neuroma, facial trauma, cancers of the head and neck, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, and congenital causes.

Treatment options for facial paralysis

There are both non-surgical and surgical treatment options for facial paralysis and synkinesis.

Non-surgical options

Non-surgical options for facial paralysis can include physical therapy, as well as injection of neuromodulators (Botulinum toxins such as Botox®) and dermal fillers. Botox can be used to relax the muscles on the unaffected side of the face, or to relax the muscles on the affected side of the face in individuals with synkinesis. Dermal fillers may be used in conjunction with Botox to enhance facial symmetry. Facial physical therapy is also a powerful tool which can enhance results. 

Surgical options

Surgical options for treating facial paralysis or synkinesis vary depending on the individual pattern of paralysis and/or synkinesis. Dr. Shtraks will work with you during your consultation to determine a customized surgical treatment plan. This plan may include nerve or muscle surgery and adjunct surgeries to improve overall facial, eyelid, or eyebrow symmetry. 

Selective neurolysis surgery

Dr. Shtraks trained at The Facial Paralysis Institute in Beverly Hills, where she gained expertise in facial nerve surgery including selective neurolysis. Selective neurolysis surgery is performed for patients with synkinesis to reduce abnormal facial movements, tightness, and discomfort, and to improve smile symmetry. Smile surgery has been shown to increase quality of life and both functional and aesthetic outcomes in individuals with facial paralysis and synkinesis.

Why choose Bloom Facial Plastic Surgery?

Dr. Julie Shtraks is a board-certified, fellowship-trained Head and Neck and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon with expertise in facial nerve surgery. Her mission is to improve quality of life in those patients suffering with facial paralysis by employing both non-surgical and surgical treatment options. Our team at Bloom Facial Plastic Surgery offers a positive, friendly, and high-energy atmosphere from the moment you arrive to your very last follow-up appointment. The comprehensive nature and synergy of our team provides our patients with unparalleled results. Serving Bryn Mawr, Philadelphia, and beyond, Bloom Facial Plastic Surgery offers very personalized and directed care. Our office is like a family, and we take care of each patient like they are one of our own. Our mission is to deliver to all patients the most advanced cosmetic and facial surgery techniques and technologies, coupled with the highest level of outcomes in a caring and safe atmosphere.

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