Facial Paralysis

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At CHOC, we understand that facial paralysis can have lasting effects on a child’s daily life and emotional development. Our pediatric plastic surgery team is here to help your child enjoy a normal and healthy future.

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What is facial paralysis?

Whenever we animate our face – smile, frown, blink, speak, etc – the brain sends signals to our facial muscles through the facial nerve. Facial paralysis is a result of facial nerve damage. Children with facial paralysis have significant facial asymmetries and often have difficulty communicating, protecting their eye and even breathing. Facial paralysis can be caused by a congenital condition, trauma or cancer.

In facial reanimation surgery, muscle and nerve are transferred from one part of the body to the face in order to restore symmetry and dynamic movement. Children after reanimation surgery have improved facial form and ability to eat, speak clearly and even smile.

What is Bell’s palsy?

The most common cause for facial paralysis is Bell’s palsy, where the facial muscles become weak or paralyzed. Bell’s palsy is an unexplained episode of facial muscle weakness and can affect anyone at any age. It is usually temporary but sometimes can be permanent, necessitating reconstruction.

What are the symptoms of Bell’s palsy?

  • Disordered movement of the muscles that control facial expressions, such as smiling, squinting, blinking or closing the eyelid
  • Headache
  • Tearing
  • Drooling
  • Loss of the sense of taste on the front 2/3 of the tongue
  • Inability to close the eye on the affected side of the face

Facial Reanimation Surgery

CHOC offers facial reanimation surgery to help kids with facial paralysis eat, speak clearly and smile. Our plastic surgeons are trained in state-of-the-art pediatric microsurgery, so you can be sure your child is receiving the best care possible.

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Why Choose CHOC for Facial Paralysis Treatment?

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Our multidisciplinary program offers families individualized physical and occupational therapy programs.

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CHOC has microsurgery trained plastic surgeons to help your child look healthy and happy.

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We treat all children with pediatric expertise– even the smallest patients. This includes pediatric anesthesiologists, intensive care physicians, and nurses with specialized training and experience.

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CHOC is one of few hospitals in Southern California to offer pediatric reconstructive surgery.

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We use the very latest and advanced techniques in plastic surgery services.

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Our coordinated multidisciplinary team allows for routine follow-up visits and to monitor your child’s recovery and ensure they meet functional milestones as they grow.