How Congenital Facial Paralysis Can Affect Children
Congenital facial paralysis can affect a child starting at birth, and its impact can be significant. Kids can experience physical side effects due to congenital facial paralysis, along with emotional issues that can affect their self-confidence and ability to connect with others.
For children who display symptoms of congenital facial paralysis, immediate diagnosis and treatment is crucial. Because, if congenital facial paralysis symptoms linger, they can cause long-lasting problems that continue into adulthood.
Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis Institute treats congenital facial paralysis and other forms of facial paralysis. He is world-renowned for his expertise in performing facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and head and neck surgery and tailors each treatment to his patient. With his extensive approach to treatment of congenital facial paralysis, Dr. Azizzadeh can help a patient alleviate their symptoms at a young age.
What Are the Symptoms of Congenital Facial Paralysis?
Congenital facial paralysis symptoms can include:
- Drooping of one side of the face
- Difficulty speaking clearly
- Asymmetrical facial appearance
- Inability to fully open or close the eye
The symptoms of congenital facial paralysis vary, and they can impact a child’s ability to speak, eat, and make facial expressions. Thus, at the first sign of congenital facial paralysis symptoms in a child, a parent should explore medical treatment options. This allows a child to undergo a medical evaluation and provides their parent with insights into the cause of congenital facial paralysis.
What Causes Congenital Facial Paralysis?
There are many reasons why children experience congenital facial paralysis, including:
1. Bell’s Palsy
Pediatric Bell’s palsy can cause facial weakness, drooping of the corner of one side of the mouth, and other facial paralysis symptoms. In many instances, Bell’s palsy symptoms disappear on their own. But, if Bell’s palsy symptoms persist beyond three months of onset, a child could be dealing with congenital facial paralysis.
2. Moebius Syndrome
Moebius syndrome is a neurological condition that causes congenital facial weakness and makes it difficult to move the eyes away from the nose. Some research indicates that Moebius syndrome is present in approximately one out of every 50,000 births in the United States, according to the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD). In addition, research shows that congenital facial paralysis can be a symptom of Moebius syndrome.
3. Perinatal Trauma
Research indicates that perinatal trauma is one of the most-common causes of congenital facial paralysis. Perinatal risk factors linked to congenital facial paralysis include a high birth weight, the use of forceps during birth, and delivery via cesarean section.
During a medical evaluation, a child’s congenital facial paralysis symptoms are reviewed closely to provide an accurate diagnosis. If a child is diagnosed with congenital facial paralysis, appropriate treatment options are then explored.
How Is Congenital Facial Paralysis Diagnosed and Treated?
For children, a medical evaluation for congenital facial paralysis involves an examination of a patient’s symptoms, their severity, and whether one or both sides of the face are paralyzed. The evaluation can also include blood tests, X-rays, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans of the patient’s head.
If a patient receives a congenital facial paralysis diagnosis, several surgical treatments are available. Congenital facial paralysis surgeries include:
1. Temporalis Tendon Transfer
With a temporalis transfer, a patient’s temporalis muscle is transferred from the scalp to the corner of the mouth. The patient then undergoes neuromuscular retraining after surgery to regain the ability to make natural facial expressions over time.
Patients who undergo temporalis transfer surgery can achieve dynamic reanimation of the facial muscles, as well as improve facial symmetry. Research also indicates that temporalis transfer patients frequently report positive postoperative surgery results.
2. Gracilis Muscle Transplant
A gracilis muscle transplant requires the transfer of a muscle from a patient’s inner thigh to facial muscles that are no longer functional. The procedure may be recommended for patients coping with congenital facial paralysis that persists for two years or longer.
During a gracilis muscle transplant procedure, a small incision is made in front of a patient’s ear. Next, fat and skin is lifted from the patient’s cheek, and the gracilis muscle and its associated blood vessels and nerve are transferred to the patient’s face. Then, the patient can improve their facial muscle strength within about six to 12 months of a gracilis muscle transplant.
3. Masseter to Facial Nerve Transfer
A masseter to facial nerve transfer is designed to improve facial reanimation in congenital facial paralysis patients and patients dealing with permanent Bell’s palsy or complete facial paralysis. The procedure can also be beneficial for patients coping with facial paralysis symptoms for three years or fewer.
Like a gracilis muscle transplant procedure, a masseter to facial nerve transfer begins with an incision made in front of a patient’s ear. The patient’s facial and masseteric nerves are then sewn together. This helps restore the patient’s facial muscle function, and it enables the patient to naturally smile, frown, and produce other facial expressions.
Which Treatment Option for Congenital Facial Paralysis in Kids Delivers the Best Results?
The ideal treatment for congenital facial paralysis in a child depends on the classification of a patient’s condition and other factors. By meeting with Dr. Azizzadeh, a child can undergo a comprehensive evaluation, then receive a personalized treatment.
Dr. Azizzadeh recommends treatment of congenital facial paralysis in children as early as possible. Along with the physical impact of congenital facial paralysis on a child’s facial appearance, the condition can cause emotional issues.
For example, some kids coping with congenital facial paralysis struggle to make friends and foster meaningful relationships with others, due in part to a lack of self-confidence regarding their facial appearance. In these instances, congenital facial paralysis can lead children to isolate from others, as well as contribute to the development of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Dr. Azizzadeh wants to help kids treat congenital facial paralysis symptoms quickly and safely. To achieve the best results of treatment, Dr. Azizzadeh learns about a child and their congenital facial paralysis symptoms. Dr. Azizzadeh next develops a custom treatment to accommodate his patient and ensure the patient can address their symptoms now and in the future.
Once Dr. Azizzadeh provides treatment for congenital facial paralysis, he stays in contact with his patient. Dr. Azizzadeh requests follow-up appointments, so he can track his patient’s progress in the weeks and months following a congenital facial paralysis procedure. If a patient has any concerns or questions after treatment, Dr. Azizzadeh is available to respond to them as well.
Schedule a Congenital Facial Paralysis Treatment Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh
Parents who are concerned that their children may be dealing with congenital facial paralysis can set up a treatment consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at (310) 657-2203.
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