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Facial paralysis can change or limit how you do basic things. You might find that suddenly it’s nearly impossible to eat, talk, smile or blink.

Not being able to do natural things like this can make you feel anxious and depressed. You may be embarrassed about how you look and feel. You might avoid social situations and the people you love. But there’s hope.

Our specialists can find out what’s causing your facial paralysis and begin therapy quickly. Your treatment might include a combination of several things, including medications, injections (shots), therapy to retrain your facial muscles and surgery.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Facial Paralysis Treatment?

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Demonstrated expertise:

At Cleveland Clinic, we have leading experts in the treatment of facial paralysis. All our surgeons are double board-certified in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and head and neck surgery. They have extensive knowledge of the complex anatomy of the face, the latest surgical techniques and other, complementary treatments. Meet our team.

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Specialized knowledge:

Your care team will include facial retraining specialists. They can help you strengthen and retrain your facial muscles to work well again. If you choose to have surgery, they’ll work closely with your surgeon to develop a recovery plan.

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Comprehensive treatment:

We use a combination of strategies to treat facial paralysis, like medications, facial retraining therapy and surgery. We’ll talk with you about these options and your goals so we can craft the most personalized treatment plan for you.

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Patient-centered care:

We understand how concerning the effects of facial paralysis can be — both physically and emotionally. We’ll listen to you, and offer support and counseling at every step of your care journey.

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Skilled collaborative providers:

If the cause of your facial paralysis is complex, you’ll meet with other Cleveland Clinic specialists like neurologists, allergists, cancer surgeons and psychologists. All work together to provide the right care for you.

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Virtual visits:

We understand that getting in to see your provider might be hard sometimes. That’s why we also offer virtual visits for some appointments. Virtual visits are an easy, convenient and safe way to meet with your provider from the comfort of home. All you need is a smartphone, tablet or computer.

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National recognition:

U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named us a top hospital in the world.

Facial Paralysis Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic

Getting a correct diagnosis soon after your symptoms start is important. This can prevent muscle atrophy (wasting or thinning of muscle mass) and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. And if you’ve had unsuccessful treatment for facial paralysis elsewhere, we can get you back on track.

Our healthcare providers can usually diagnose the cause of your facial paralysis quickly based on physical exams and your medical history. If your paralysis is more complex, we may order some tests to take a deeper look. These can include bloodwork, imaging tests like CT scans and MRIs, electromyography and nerve conduction studies.

We can also quickly consult with other Cleveland Clinic specialists when needed, including oncologists for cancer-related palsy and neurosurgeons if we think something in your brain is causing your paralysis. You might also see one of our neurologists, who specialize in treating your inner ear, auditory nerve and the base of your skull.

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Treating Facial Paralysis at Cleveland Clinic

Whether your facial paralysis started recently or many years ago, we can help improve the way your face works. We’ll help improve facial discomfort and reduce drooling, weakness and the spasms of unwanted movement (synkinesis). We’ll also find ways to help you protect your eyes, make facial expressions and look your best.

Depending on the cause of your facial paralysis and how bad it is, we may recommend a specific treatment or a combination of treatments. We’ll use photos, videos and special software to help you see and understand your progress.

Medications

We might recommend:

Facial retraining

Facial retraining therapy is a special type of physical therapy for the face. Retraining exercises can strengthen your facial muscles and teach them to work the way they should. It also can help you recover from facial surgery.

At Cleveland Clinic, our facial retraining therapists understand the complex anatomy of the face. They have lots of experience treating people with facial palsy. And they work closely with our surgeons to get a clear picture of the nuances of every operation.

Surgery

Our facial paralysis surgeons are experts in the anatomy of the face, head and neck. They specialize in several of the latest surgical techniques that can help your facial muscles work right again.

Example of surgical treatments include:

  • Facial nerve repair: Finding injured ends of a facial nerve, cleaning them up and sewing them back together.
  • Nerve transfers: Rerouting a nerve or taking part of a healthy nerve and transplanting it somewhere else.
  • Gracilis muscle transfer: Transplanting a small piece of inner thigh muscle to your face.
  • Ocular plastic surgery: Fixing drooping eyelids or eyebrows.
  • Selective neuromyectomy (or selective neurolysis): Targeting and removing certain branches of the facial nerve to get rid of unwanted facial movements (synkinesis).
  • Static facial suspension: Using tissue from your thigh to help lift the corner of your mouth.
  • Orthodromic temporalis tendon transfer: Transplanting one of your chewing muscles from your jaw to the corner of your mouth.
  • Facial cosmetic procedures: Using face and neck lifts, eyelid and brow surgery, injectable fillers and skin resurfacing to create a healthier, younger, more symmetrical and attractive appearance.

Taking the Next Step

Not being able to smile, chew or blink can be stressful and life-changing. But it doesn’t have to be permanent. There are many different therapies to help improve the way your face works. At Cleveland Clinic, we focus on you and keep your lifestyle and goals in mind when we craft your treatment plan. We’re here to help you overcome the effects of facial paralysis and get back to actively living the life you love.

Learn more about how we diagnose and treat facial paralysis at Cleveland Clinic.

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Learn more about how we diagnose and treat facial paralysis at Cleveland Clinic.


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