Facial expression is imperative for every person to express emotions and communicate. Facial paralysis, or the inability to move the facial muscles, is a condition that makes a person lose self-confidence and happiness more importantly, regardless of cause, duration or age.
The facial nerve is responsible for the movement and the control of muscle functioning of the face. Dysfunction of the facial nerve can result in facial paralysis or facial palsy. This condition usually occurs on one side of the face and can cause problems of the skin, eyes and other muscles associated with the face.
There are specialised surgeries which aim at restoring the function and appearance of a person affected with facial nerve palsy.
Facial nerve palsy is also known as paresis. Paresis means a weakness in the facial movement while palsy refers to a complete lack of motion, or facial paralysis. Of course, as a parent, it can be frightening if your child cannot move one or both sides of his face, especially if you don’t know why the palsy has occurred.
Facial nerve palsy can be a congenital deformity (birth defect), or can be acquired at any time in life. Congenital facial paralysis, or facial paralysis that occurs at birth, can occur on one or both sides of the face (bilateral facial paralysis). Unilateral paralysis is often a symptom of other defects.
Symptoms of facial paralysis:
- Difficulty in raising eyebrows on the paralysed side, causing the brow to drop down and soft-tissues (ptosis).
- Difficulty in closing the eyelids that lead to corneal dryness in the eyes.
- Cheeks and mouth also droop, resulting in difficulty to eat and drink.
- Inability to smile on the affected side.
There is a broad range of facial reanimation treatments that aid in the reconstruction of facial nerves affected by a facial paralysis. These include:
1. Muscle transfers – This treatment Involves moving tendons and muscles from one usually from your legs or abdomen to your face.
2. Nerve grafting – This method includes moving nerves from different parts of the body to the face. This procedure provides free movement and sensation to the affected area of the face, allowing better control of the muscles.