Facial Paralysis Treatment

If you have facial paralysis, turn to the experts at UC San Diego Health for comprehensive care.

Our facial nerve team includes surgeons with expertise in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, neurotology and plastic surgery. We also have a dedicated team of physical therapists who work with facial paralysis patients.

Symptoms of Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis is the loss of movement of the muscles controlling facial expression. Paralysis may affect one or both sides of the face, develop gradually or suddenly, and be temporary or permanent.

Common symptoms of facial paralysis include:

  • Difficulty closing the eyelids
  • Facial droop
  • Oral incompetence
  • Difficulties with speech and emotional expression
  • Facial spasms or involuntary muscle activation

Causes of Facial Paralysis

  • Bell's palsy
  • Facial nerve tumors and acoustic neuromas
  • Cancer of the parotid gland, brain, head or neck
  • Ramsay Hunt syndrome
  • Ear infections, ear disease or head trauma
  • Moebius and Goldenhar syndromes, as well as other inherited conditions
  • Neurofibromatosis and vascular malformations
  • Stroke
  • Surgical complications of head or neck surgery

Facial Reanimation and Reconstructive Surgery

We offer the following procedures:

  • Facial nerve exploration and microsurgical repair
  • Nerve transfers
  • Gracilis muscle transfer, both single or two-stage
  • Vascularized latissimus dorsi motor nerve free flap transfer
  • Temporalis tendon transfer
  • Static support (fascia lata static suspension)
  • Minimally invasive static support such as suture static suspension, brow lifts, eyelid weights, lower lid tightening, lip resection
  • Aesthetic surgery

Nonsurgical Treatments for Facial Paralysis

In some cases, facial paralysis can be treated without surgery with:

  • Antibiotic or antiviral medications 
  • Botox
  • Filler augmentation

Facial Rehabilitation 

Our physical therapists specialize in facial rehabilitation. They offer one-on-one treatment sessions to:

  • Retrain your facial muscles.
  • Train a "bite-driven" smile.
  • Reduce involuntary facial movements.