What Is Acoustic Neuroma Facial Paralysis?
An acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) refers to a benign tumor that forms on the eighth cranial (vestibulocochlear) nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain. The tumor can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and vertigo. It can also lead to facial paralysis and weakness.
How Does Acoustic Neuroma Facial Paralysis Occur?
As an acoustic neuroma grows, it can impact the facial nerve. The tumor can ultimately damage the nerve, resulting in facial paralysis.
In addition, surgical treatment of an acoustic neuroma can lead to facial paralysis symptoms. An acoustic neuroma is located near the facial nerve. If a surgeon inadvertently cuts or damages the facial nerve during treatment, a patient can experience facial paralysis symptoms after their procedure.
What to Expect If Facial Paralysis Occurs in Conjunction with an Acoustic Neuroma
Facial paralysis that develops in conjunction with an acoustic neuroma can have far-flung effects on a patient. It can impact a patient’s ability to naturally move different areas of the face, including:
- Facial Muscles: If a patient develops facial paralysis, he or she will lose the ability to control muscle movements on the paralyzed side of their face. The patient can also develop synkinesis or experience extreme facial muscle tightness.
- Eyes: Eye problems are common for patients who have facial paralysis as a result of an acoustic neuroma. These issues can include decreased eyelid mobility and tear function, which can lead to eye dryness and irritation.
- Mouth: Patients who have had an acoustic neuroma can experience muscle weakness that can change the way they eat, drink, talk, and smile. Also, those who experience numbness often bite the inside of their cheeks, which lead to ulcerations that require medical care.
Facial paralysis and an acoustic neuroma rarely occur at the same time. Regardless, at the onset of acoustic neuroma and/or facial paralysis symptoms, a patient should seek out medical treatment options.
What to Do If You Experience Acoustic Neuroma Facial Paralysis
People who experience acoustic neuroma and facial paralysis symptoms should consult with a doctor. At this point, a doctor can perform an imaging test to determine if an acoustic neuroma is present. A doctor can also use a hearing test to evaluate a tumor’s severity.
If a doctor finds a patient is dealing with an acoustic neuroma, multiple treatment options are available. A doctor may initially recommend ongoing monitoring of the tumor if it causes few or no major symptoms. This will require a patient to meet with their doctor approximately every six to 12 months to track the status of their tumor. Comparatively, if an acoustic neuroma is large or causes serious side effects, surgery can be used to remove the tumor.
Is It Common for Patients to Experience Facial Paralysis After Acoustic Neuroma Surgery?
Facial paralysis after acoustic neuroma surgery is unlikely to happen if the procedure is performed properly. By partnering with an expert surgeon, a patient can minimize their risk of facial paralysis and other severe side effects following an acoustic neuroma surgery.
Is Facial Paralysis Permanent After Acoustic Neuroma Surgery?
Facial paralysis can be temporary or permanent after acoustic neuroma surgery. If a patient receives immediate diagnosis and treatment of their facial paralysis symptoms, he or she is well-equipped to avoid permanent facial paralysis.
How to Treat Facial Nerve Paralysis After Acoustic Neuroma Surgery
When considering treatment for facial nerve paralysis after acoustic neuroma surgery, patients can seek help from facial nerve expert Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis Institute. Dr. Azizzadeh is a globally recognized facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon who takes a holistic approach to facial nerve paralysis treatment. He can work closely with a patient who experiences facial nerve paralysis following acoustic neuroma surgery to identify the best treatment option.
If a patient does not regain facial movement or suffers severe synkinesis following an acoustic neuroma surgery, Dr. Azizzadeh may recommend a nerve transfer procedure. To perform this procedure, Dr. Azizzadeh harvests nerve grafts from his patient’s lower leg. He then attaches the nerve grafts to his patient’s facial nerve. Dr. Azizzadeh also harvests the gracilis muscle free flap from his patient’s inner thigh. He completes the procedure by attaching the gracilis muscle free flap to his patient’s cross-facial nerve graft and artery/vein in their neck.
A nerve transfer procedure can help a patient regain the ability to move the facial muscles on the paralyzed side of their face. Following the procedure, it can take eight to 12 months for a patient to improve their facial muscle strength and coordination. The patient may also require physical therapy to realize the full value of their treatment.
Along with a nerve transfer procedure, Dr. Azizzadeh may recommend other procedures for patients dealing with facial paralysis after an acoustic neuroma surgery. These procedures include:
- Hypoglossal-facial nerve transfer
- Masseter-facial nerve transfer
- Gracilis muscle transplant
- Temporalis tendon transfer
- Synkinesis surgery
For patients who experience facial paralysis that causes eye problems after acoustic neuroma surgery, Dr. Azizzadeh can help. He works with a world-renowned oculoplastic surgeon who can provide eye care management and support to facial paralysis patients with facial paralysis. In these instances, a patient may benefit from any of the following treatments:
And, for patients who experience oral health issues and facial paralysis after acoustic neuroma surgery, Dr. Azizzadeh recommends working with a dentist who can offer personalized care and support. This dentist can offer tips and recommendations to help their patient avoid long-lasting oral health issues. Plus, a patient can brush, floss, and perform other home dental hygiene best practices and complete routine dental exams to optimize their oral health.
What Is the Best Treatment for Acoustic Neuroma Facial Paralysis?
The best treatment for acoustic neuroma facial paralysis depends on the patient. To identify the ideal treatment, meet with a doctor. Then, a patient can learn about the severity of their acoustic neuroma and explore safe, effective treatments to address the tumor. He or she can also receive a treatment recommendation to resolve their facial paralysis symptoms.
Want to Explore Acoustic Neuroma Facial Paralysis Treatment Options? Meet with Dr. Azizzadeh
An acoustic neuroma can have serious ramifications on an individual’s health. If left untreated, the tumor can grow and impact the facial nerve. In this scenario, facial nerve damage can occur, leading to facial paralysis that can become permanent.
Acoustic neuroma facial paralysis can hamper an individual’s facial appearance. It can hinder a person’s ability to smile, frown, and make other natural facial expressions as well. Yet, with immediate diagnosis and treatment, an individual can address such problems before they escalate.
For people who are dealing with facial nerve paralysis after acoustic neuroma surgery, Dr. Azizzadeh can assist. Dr. Azizzadeh can offer treatment recommendations to patients who have been dealing with facial paralysis symptoms for eight months or longer.
Dr. Azizzadeh offers in-person consultations in Beverly Hills or virtual consultations via Zoom. To learn more about acoustic neuroma facial paralysis treatment options or request a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, contact us online or call us today at (310) 923-7793.
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