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Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes sudden muscle weakness on one side of the face. It is often mistaken for a stroke because half the face droops, smiles are one-sided, and the eye on the affected side can’t close. In most cases, the condition significantly improves over a few weeks. However, some people continue to struggle with symptoms that require intervention.
Bell’s palsy, also known as 7th nerve palsy or acute peripheral facial palsy of unknown cause, can occur at any age. The exact cause of this condition is obscure, but experts believe this temporary facial paralysis may result from the swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face, known as the 7th cranial nerve. It may also result from immune disorders, shingles, Lyme disease, certain viral infections, and congenital causes.
The first sign of Bell’s palsy is often pain behind the ears. The full extent of the symptoms appears in 48 to 72 hours and usually starts improving within a few weeks. Complete recovery typically takes place in about six months. However, in rare cases, people may continue to deal with symptoms of Bell’s palsy for life.
Bell’s palsy may cause eyebrow drooping and sagging of the lower lid, changing the shape of the eye. Patients are often unable to blink or close the affected eye, not even partially. That may lead to a condition known as exposure keratitis, an extreme form of dry eye syndrome. People with Bell’s palsy may also develop an outward turn of the lower eyelid, a condition known as ectropion.
If you continue to deal with facial nerve palsy symptoms, Dr. Garcia, our highly experienced oculoplastic surgeon at Desert Eyesthetics, may recommend one or a combination of the following treatments:
Artificial Tears: To prevent severe dry eye caused by Bell’s palsy, Dr. Garcia may recommend using artificial tears in eye drop, gel, or ointment form. She will prescribe the best option based on your specific needs.
Gold Weight Insertion: To restore the function of the eyelid and allow it to close, Dr. Garcia may recommend inserting a gold weight in the upper lid during an outpatient procedure. The gold weight may need to stay in permanently if the nerve signals cannot close the eye.
Ectropion Repair: This procedure is often necessary to restore an eyelid that sags and turns outward. It helps relieve dryness and improves constant tearing, crusting, and light sensitivity. Ectropion Repair involves tightening the lid by reinforcing the tendon on the outer corner of the eye, restoring normal appearance and function.
Brow Lift: A brow lift may be necessary to restore a drooping brow to its normal position and improve facial symmetry. Dr. Garcia can perform the procedure with a small incision above the brow within a wrinkle line in the forehead.
Botox Injections: Facial nerve function usually returns without intervention. However, sometimes abnormal nerve pathways occur, leading to what’s known as aberrant regeneration. Botox injections can relax any abnormal spasms and twitching and improve facial symmetry.
Contact Desert Eyesthetics to learn more about eye treatments for Bell’s Palsy symptoms. Due to the injury of the 7th nerve, treatment to correct your eye’s functionality and cosmetic appearance requires specialized oculoplastic training. Dr. Garcia is committed to providing the highest level of care for the best possible outcomes. Call us and schedule your appointment today!