Facial Nerve Clinic

Facial Nerves Diagram - Credits: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator; C. Carl Jaffe, MD, cardiologist

The Facial Nerve Clinic is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of neurologists, head and neck surgeons, neurosurgeons and plastic and reconstructive surgeons. We provide comprehensive care for patients with facial paralysis. Whether related to birth defects, infections, trauma or tumors - and even if the disability is longstanding - there are a number of interventions available to help restore a more normal appearance, and often, a functional smile.

Facial Nerve Q&A

On February 14, a team of UC San Diego Health System surgeons performed a complicated cancer surgery on Hall of Fame outfielder, Tony Gwynn. The process involved utilizing a nerve graft from Gwynn’s neck to reconstruct a facial nerve.

Read a Q&A with Justin Brown, MD, about nerve grafts.

Physicians at the Facial Nerve Clinic provide a comprehensive approach to the management of these disorders. As with any nerve injury, it is critical to determine whether the nerve will recover spontaneously or whether surgery will be required. To assist with this, nerve testing, including electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction studies, are performed to determine whether nerve function is present, even if function is not clinically evident. If the injury is recent, baseline and interval studies, including nerve testing, photographs and videos of facial function, are used by the team to determiner the proper intervention needed to restore function.

Surgery Can Include:

  • Acute surgical intervention after facial nerve trauma
  • Decompression of the nerve through its bony canal within the skull base
  • Nerve grafting
  • Cranial nerve transfers
  • Transplanting muscle to reconstruct a functional smile
  • Microvascular facial reconstruction
  • Aesthetic facial reconstruction

Before any of these interventions are undertaken, we believe that it is critical to understand your goals so we can help you recover the function you're seeking .

Our team works together to determine the best reconstructive approach. Some surgeries can be accomplished in a single operation, whereas others may require more than one surgery to achieve the best results. The operation is often a combined effort, with physicians working together as a team.

The team consists of Geoff Sheean, MD, an expert in neurophysiological testing, Quyen Nguyen, MD, an expert in diseases of the facial nerves, Amanda Gosman, MD, an expert in reconstructive soft tissue surgery including muscle transplantation and Justin Brown, MD, a neurosurgeon and expert in peripheral nerve reconstruction and nerve transfers.  The Facial Paralysis Clinic at UC San Diego Health System is one of the nation's most comprehensive clinics available for the treatment of facial movement impairments.

Specialists Who Treat Facial Paralysis

Related Services at UC San Diego Health System

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