If you've suffered from a viral illness for the last week or two, you may be horrified to wake up to discover that you've developed Bell's palsy—an inflammation of the nerves on one side of your face that can cause your eye and mouth to noticeably sag, at times even impeding your vision or speech. While most cases of Bell's palsy resolve themselves in just a couple of weeks or a few months, in some cases this nerve damage may be permanent. If your condition doesn't show any signs of resolving itself in the near future, should you seek surgical intervention like a partial facelift? Read on to learn more about the causes, treatments, and surgical options for your Bell's palsy.
Will your Bell's palsy resolve itself?
Although your Bell's palsy may be fairly easily traced to a virus known for its inflammatory effects, like the herpes virus or even the common cold, in some cases it may be more mysterious in origin. Most Bell's palsy cases that are due to nerve compression after a virus will cure themselves once the virus has been eradicated (or sent back into dormancy), so simply treating the virus should be enough to restore movement and sensation to the affected part of your face.
However, if your Bell's palsy isn't showing signs of improvement even after you feel you've kicked the virus or if you aren't sure you were ever even ill, you may want to see a neurologist or rheumatologist for further treatment. You may require the administration of steroids or other medications that can help hurry the process along—or even a more permanent surgical procedure.
What are your treatment options for Bell's palsy?
Because this condition is usually caused by compression of one or more facial or cranial nerves, medications and procedures to remove this pressure often offer the quickest relief. Steroids like prednisone help reduce inflammation throughout your body, restoring sensation to your temporarily paralyzed facial nerves, while muscle relaxers can help tame involuntary twitches or spasms as movement returns. In most cases, you should notice improvement in your symptoms after just a few days, although you'll likely need to finish your prescribed regimen of medication to ensure this inflammation won't return.
Unfortunately, these treatments can have some unwanted side effects—namely, increased appetite and rapid weight gain, among others. Those with kidney problems may also find prednisone and related drugs to be too taxing on the excretory system. If you're unable to handle the medications normally used to treat Bell's palsy and your symptoms persist for months without any sign of abatement, it may be time to look into plastic surgery.
What types of surgery can treat Bell's palsy?
If you've had an MRI or CT scan that shows the nerve compression causing your Bell's palsy, a surgical procedure to release these nerves may be sufficient to restore movement and sensation to your face without further intervention. However, in most cases this disease doesn't clearly manifest itself on these types of scans, and having neurosurgery may be an option that poses more risk than reward. A partial facelift may be a less invasive and more cost-effective way to restore your pre-palsy appearance.
During the partial facelift, a plastic surgeon will make several small incisions around your hairline or jawline. He or she will then carefully slide surgical tools beneath the surface of your skin and pull it taut to suture at the incision point, helping bring your eye or the corner of your mouth up to be perfectly symmetrical with the other side. While this surgery isn't enough to restore full movement to this side of your face, it can help you regain much-needed self-confidence while battling a challenging condition.
For further information about this kind of facelift, contact a plastic surgeon through a website like http://www.myplasticsurgerygroup.com.