At New York Facial Paralysis, we offer cutting edge treatment that focuses on all causes of facial paralysis. Dr. O leads our practice as a facial plastic surgeon trained in facial paralysis and reanimation. The uniqueness that Dr. O brings to her treatment options is understanding both the functionality and balanced aesthetics of the face. Hemifacial spasm is a rare neuromuscular disorder in which the muscles on one side of a person’s face twitch or contract involuntarily. This rare disorder affects approximately 0.8 in 100,000 people in the United States. For those suffering from hemifacial spasm, finding an effective treatment is a vital means of regaining normalcy in your life.
The facial muscles are controlled by the 7th cranial nerve, which controls the movement of facial expression. Typically starting in the lower eyelid, the twitching associated with hemifacial spasm progresses over time to spread to the entire lid. As the contractions continue to progress, twitching moves down one side of the face to the cheekbone area, jaw area, and around the lips and mouth. Some people experience alternate hemifacial spasm that originates at the chin and moves upward. Hemifacial spasm is most often causes by compression of the facial nerve by the anterior inferior cerebellar artery. Facial injury or a tumor can also be the cause of involuntary spasms.
While there is currently no cure for hemifacial spasm, there are effective treatments available that help to alleviate the symptoms. One of the most widely used treatment options involves the use of large doses of botulinum toxin injections (Botox). These injections weaken the muscles affected by the spasm to help create a more natural and relaxed facial expression. Anticonvulsant medications, such as carbamazepine or phenytoin, may be prescribed to help control the twitching that occurs. For those who are resistant to medication and/or Botox injections, surgical treatment becomes necessary. Microvascular decompression surgery can reduce the pressure on the facial nerve and help relieve the spasms that occur.
Dr. O and the team at the New York Facial Paralysis Center specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of facial nerve disorders. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.