Facial paralysis is a complex issue and the specific treatment required depends greatly on the cause of the paralysis. For most patients with Bell’s palsy, the facial paralysis is temporary, but sometimes the facial nerve is permanently damaged and requires surgical intervention. Other facial paralysis patients may also benefit from surgical treatment. Facial Nerve Decompression is a procedure that may help those living with permanent facial paralysis regain facial function and a more symmetrical appearance.
Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS is the Director of the Facial Paralysis Institute and a world-renowned facial paralysis expert. He is highly regarded for his expertise in the field and has even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Dr. Oz Show, and The Doctors for his groundbreaking work in the treatment of facial paralysis. At the Facial Paralysis Institute in Los Angeles, Dr. Azizzadeh and his team strive to bring their facial paralysis patients the highest quality care and the most innovative treatments available.
What is Facial Nerve Decompression?
Facial nerve decompression is performed when the facial nerve is being compressed in the bony canal of the temporal bone. In some cases, the facial nerve becomes so inflamed it becomes pressed, or cramped, within the confined space of the bony canal. When facial nerve decompression is indicated and performed by an experienced facial paralysis surgeon, releasing the pressure on the nerve can lead to gradual improvement in facial paralysis symptoms.
Generally, facial nerve decompression is performed through a middle fossa craniotomy and/or through the mastoid bone behind the ear. Pieces of the bone are removed so that the inflamed facial nerve can expand and the pressure that may be causing some of the facial paralysis symptoms is relieved. Depending on the individual case, the surgeon may perform the procedure through the middle cranial fossa method or a mastoidectomy, or a combination of the two.
Is Facial Nerve Decompression Effective?
Facial nerve decompression is sometimes used to treat long-standing Bell's palsy and other types of facial paralysis. It alleviates pressure on the facial nerve, and by doing so, often leads to progressive facial paralysis improvement and healing.
Facial nerve decompression patients often achieve the optimal results if they undergo treatment within 30 days of the onset of facial paralysis symptoms, according to Dr. Azizzadeh. At this point, Dr. Azizzadeh can use facial nerve decompression to eliminate facial nerve irritation before it becomes a permanent issue.
Who is a Candidate for Facial Nerve Decompression?
Facial nerve decompression is typically indicated for patients with permanent facial palsy in which the facial nerve is intact, but is inflamed and compressed within the bones of the face. This can be present in patients with facial paralysis as a result of traumatic injury, infection, or Bell’s palsy. Facial nerve decompression is generally indicated after other less invasive treatments for the symptoms of facial palsy have been attempted.
An optimal result after facial nerve decompression surgery is seen about one year after surgery. Blood work, imaging (MRI and/or CT scans), and other tests such as EMG and ENoG are often performed to determine if facial nerve decompression is a good treatment option. Schedule a consultation with the Los Angeles facial paralysis expert Dr. Babak Azizzadeh to see if you are a candidate for facial nerve decompression.
If a patient does not qualify for facial nerve decompression, other facial paralysis treatments are available. In fact, Dr. Azizzadeh is happy to teach individuals about facial nerve decompression alternatives such as cross-facial nerve graft and masseteric facial nerve transfer procedures.
A cross-facial nerve graft requires the use of a patient's undamaged facial nerve to correct facial paralysis on the opposite side of his or her face. During a cross-facial nerve graft, Dr. Azizzadeh harvests a dispensable sensory nerve from a patient's leg, called the sural nerve. He next uses a long interposition graft to link the facial nerves on both sides of a patient's face. Finally, Dr. Azizzadeh produces a cross-face graft that guides the regenerating nerve fibers across a patient's face.
Comparatively, a masseteric facial nerve transfer helps improve facial reanimation, particularly among individuals who have been dealing with facial paralysis for less than three years. During a masseteric facial nerve transfer, Dr. Azizzadeh makes an incision near the front of the ear. Next, he identifies the facial nerve and masseteric nerve and sews them together. This ensures the masseteric nerve provides neural input into the paralyzed facial nerve to help a patient restore his or her facial muscle function and smile.
What to Expect After a Facial Nerve Decompression Procedure
Recovery after facial nerve decompression surgery may be a long-term process.
Approximately 10 days after a facial nerve decompression surgery, a patient's sutures are removed. Meanwhile, facial nerve decompression patients often can resume their normal activities within about two weeks following surgery. They require periodic follow-up visits to ensure their recovery stays on track, too.
Choose an Expert Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon for Facial Nerve Decompression
Facial nerve decompression is a complex procedure, and it must be performed by an expert facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Fortunately, Dr. Azizzadeh is a Harvard-trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon who administers safe, effective facial nerve decompression treatments.
Dr. Azizzadeh is a globally recognized facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon who understands all aspects of the facial nerve. He understands the intricacies of the facial nerve and works with patients to help them correct their facial paralysis symptoms. First, Dr. Azizzadeh helps a patient determine if facial nerve decompression is the right treatment to correct his or her facial paralysis symptoms. If Dr. Azizzadeh determines facial nerve decompression is the ideal treatment option, he next guides a patient through the surgery process. Dr. Azizzadeh also requests follow-up appointments to help a patient achieve his or her desired facial nerve decompression surgery results.
Contact the Los Angeles Facial Paralysis Expert for a Consultation
If you or someone you love is living with permanent facial paralysis, facial nerve decompression surgery may be able to restore facial function. Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS is one of the best facial paralysis surgeons in the world and an expert in procedures to restore facial function such as facial nerve decompression. Call Dr. Azizzadeh at the Facial Paralysis Institute at (310) 657-2203 today to schedule a consultation and find out if facial nerve decompression may be able to help you.
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