University of California San Francisco | About UCSF | UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
Search Site | Find a Doctor

Facial Paralysis

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.

Symptoms of facial paralysis may include:

  • Unbalanced or asymmetric facial structures
  • Inability to raise an eyebrow
  • Inability to close an eyelid and protect the eyeball from drying out
  • Looseness or sagging of the lower eyelid, leading to tears dripping down the cheek
  • Inability to raise, lower or pucker the lips, leading to dribbling when drinking and slurring of some words when speaking

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:

Show More

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.

Show More

UCSF Research & Clinical Trials

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Otolaryngology

Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
2330 Post St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 353-9500
Fax: (415) 885-7800
Appointment information

Related Conditions