Bell’s palsy is a condition that affects the facial nerves and can have a significant impact on a person's facial expressions and overall quality of life. If you’re one of the 40,000 people diagnosed with Bell’s palsy this year, Dr. Elliott H. Rose of The Aesthetic Surgery Center can help. He’s a renowned plastic surgeon with vast experience treating patients with your condition.
Here’s what he wants you to know.
About Bell’s palsy
Bell's palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from the dysfunction of the facial nerve, known as cranial nerve VII. This nerve controls the muscles on one side of the face.
Bell’s palsy can affect people of all ages but is more commonly seen in people aged 15 to 60 years. While the exact cause is not always clear, viral infections, particularly herpes simplex virus, are thought to be a contributing factor in many cases.
Symptoms of Bell’s palsy
The symptoms of Bell's palsy can be quite distressing. They often appear suddenly and progress rapidly over a 48-hour period.
Common signs and symptoms include:
- Facial drooping or weakness on one side
- Inability to smile or close one eye
- Excessive tearing or dryness in one eye
- Loss of taste or altered taste sensation
- Difficulty in eating or drinking
- Facial twitching
- Headache or earache on the affected side
If you have Bell’s palsy, you’ve likely experienced several of these symptoms. While they are quite concerning, the good news is that most patients do recover fully.
Dealing with a diagnosis
If you’ve received a Bell’s palsy diagnosis from Dr. Rose or another provider, know that most people experience a resolution of symptoms within six months.
Although you’re likely to see improvements without intervention, it’s important to get medical care for your condition. Complications from a severe case of Bell’s palsy can lead to long-term, irreversible damage to your facial nerve, irregular regrowth of nerve fibers that change the way your face moves, and partial or complete blindness.
Treatment for Bell’s palsy
Your doctor may recommend treatment even in mild cases of Bell’s palsy to speed up the healing process and manage your symptoms. Your treatment plan may include:
These anti-inflammatory medications, when administered early on, can help reduce swelling and promote nerve recovery.
If a viral infection is suspected to be the cause, antiviral medications might be prescribed to target the underlying viral agent.
Exercises that involve facial muscle movements can be beneficial in maintaining muscle tone and preventing contractures during the recovery period.
Since Bell's palsy can affect the ability to close the eye fully, keeping the eye lubricated and protected from dryness is essential to help prevent complications.
In some cases, Botox injections may be used to treat facial muscle imbalances and involuntary spasms. Our office can help with accurate administration of these.
Plastic surgery interventions
In rare cases where Bell's palsy leads to permanent facial weakness or muscle imbalances, Dr. Rose uses his surgical expertise to restore facial symmetry and function. Advanced procedures such as facial nerve grafts, muscle transfers, or eyelid surgery can help improve facial aesthetics and overall facial expression.
Together, these interventions reanimate your face to bring about a more normal look and smile.
The Aesthetic Surgery Center invites patients from New York City and across the world to receive expert care after receiving a Bell’s palsy diagnosis. Dr. Rose provides some of the most innovative and effective cosmetic interventions to restore your appearance if you’ve experienced permanent facial paralysis. Call our office or use the online tool to set up a consultation.