Facial paralysis occurs when a person is no longer able to move some or all of the muscles of the face. These muscles are responsible for vital functions such as eating, speaking, closing the eyes and expressing emotions.
Facial paralysis may be caused by stroke, trauma, tumors that press on the facial nerve, diseases that affect the facial muscles or infections that may cause temporary or permanent nerve dysfunction.
Doctors at UCSF's Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic treat facial paralysis by transferring muscles and repairing blood vessels and nerves.
Read a transcript or hear an interview with Dr. Daniel Knott, who explains the latest treatments for facial paralysis.
Symptoms of facial paralysis may include:
The diagnosis of facial paralysis is often complicated. Facial paralysis may result from a disruption in the part of the brain called the motor cortex, injury to the facial nerve or damage to the muscles that control facial expression.
Diagnosis involves a consultation with a doctor, a complete physical exam and imaging studies of the brain and face. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following imaging tests:
Treatment of facial paralysis depends on many factors, including the patient's age, cause of the paralysis, severity of paralysis and duration of symptoms. Symmetry of facial features usually can be regained, if the patient participates in facial muscle retraining and therapy. Both are critical for success.
Doctors at UCSF's Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic treat facial paralysis by transferring muscles and repairing blood vessels and nerves. The treatment is determined after the assessment of symptoms and is tailored to each patient's needs.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.