Facial Paralysis

UT Southwestern Medical Center offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment for many of the most complex facial paralysis problems. We understand that confronting facial paralysis is very difficult. Our goal is to help. 

There are many causes of facial paralysis, but the signs and symptoms are often similar and include:

Inability to smile
Smile asymmetry may range from being nearly unnoticeable to severe asymmetries with obvious deformities, even when the face is at rest. In it’s more severe forms patients are unable to create a symmetric smile and the paralyzed side is droopier, even at rest.
Inability to close the eye
Because one of the muscles surrounding the eye assists in eye closure, patients with partial or complete facial nerve paralysis often have difficulty closing the eye. Incomplete closure of the upper eyelid, in combination with decreased production of tears due to facial nerve injury, may expose the eye to dryness and corneal irritation, often resulting in pain (especially after waking), abrasions, ulcerations, and rarely blindness. This condition is also known as exposure keratopathy.
Impaired speech
Due partially to the paralysis of muscles of the lips and those surrounding the mouth, patients frequently complain about impaired speech.
Forehead paralysis
If the frontal branch of the facial nerve is involved, patients lose the ability to raise their forehead. In younger patients it is sometimes less noticeable, but regardless of age, this causes significant impairment in both form and function. Patients lose the ability to lift the eyebrow – an important action of facial expression – and frequently have a droopy brow, which causes both asymmetry, and may cover the eye and interfere with vision.
Inability to clear food from mouth
Due to paralysis of the Buccinator muscle patients may complain about food remaining stuck in the cheek on the paralyzed side. Patients will often have difficulty advancing the food and will commonly use the tongue or fingers to mobilize the food.
Drooling
Often in cases of severe paralysis, drooling of solids or fluids from the corner of the mouth may occur.
Difficulty breathing from the nose
Often the sidewall of the nose is collapsed on the paralyzed side, causing difficult nasal breathing.
Facial Dyskenesias
With Synkinesis, when a person voluntarily moves one muscle, another muscle is also involuntarily and simultaneously moved. It occurs when the facial nerve has degenerated and then partially recovers. Common examples include the closing of the eyes and the simultaneously twitching or partial elevation of the lip or the opening between the upper and lower eyelid when one attempts to smile.
With Hyperkinesis, the resting state or activity of the muscle is exaggerated. It is not uncommon that the paralyzed side of the face is contracted or pulled towards the injured side yet cannot produce a functional smile. Very often, even in the resting state, the palpebral fissure is narrower on the paralyzed side in comparison to the normal side and may contribute to asymmetry of the face.

Medical attention is needed when facial paralysis only partially recovers or does not recover at all, is progressive, exists from birth, or has been of long-standing duration.

We Make You The Priority

Our facial paralysis specialists not only diagnose and treat complex problems but also do so efficiently and conveniently in one location. Most patients can be evaluated in minimal time, and care is efficiently coordinated if several surgical teams are required for treatment.

Facial Paralysis Specialist

To meet with a facial paralysis specialist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, please request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.