Drooping facial tissues occur slowly due to aging and degenerative factors, but when it happens suddenly, it is a sign of an abnormal condition. The facial muscles allow you to smile, frown, wink, and make all types of expressions but they require healthy nerve function. If you have a drooping eye on one side or a lopsided smile, there are many possible causes of abnormal facial droop.
Facial paralysis is usually linked to damage to the nerves that serve the facial muscles. These include two major facial nerves that can impact many of your facial expressions. While muscle damage can contribute to facial droop, it is the nerves that send the signals from the brain to lift the muscles into the desired positions. This includes when the face is at rest and when making facial expressions. There are a few possible causes that can create abnormal facial droop which may be temporary or permanent.
The herpes simplex virus which can be dormant in your body can suddenly cause an inflammation of facial nerves. This condition is called Bell’s palsy and it is the most common cause of abnormal facial droop. The symptoms of Bell’s palsy come on suddenly, usually within 24-36 hours, and they can last for weeks or months. Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:
- Sudden facial drooping on one side of the face
- Difficulty making facial expressions like smiling or winking
- Drooling due to mouth laxity
- Difficulty eating, talking, or drinking
- Dry eye
There are conservative treatments that can counteract the symptoms of Bell’s palsy, including facial droop. Surgery is rarely required unless there is extensive damage or compression of the facial nerves.
Injuries and Nerve Damage
Facial droop can occur after a head injury or serious health event like a stroke. Tumors and other growths can put pressure on the nerves or damage to the nerves can occur during an accident or even during childbirth. The treatment for nerve damage depends on the extent of the damage, but there are options to combat facial droop.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and Other Conditions
There are multiple conditions that can cause inflammation of the facial nerves that can result in drooping muscles. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, Lyme disease, diabetes, sarcoidosis, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and other conditions may have an adverse effect on facial nerves and muscles. Treatment of the condition is the best solution to restore natural facial movement.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Abnormal Facial Droop
If you have facial drooping or difficulty making facial expressions, you need an accurate diagnosis and advanced treatment options. New York Facial Paralysis is a leader in our field, offering comprehensive testing and diagnosis for facial paralysis conditions, including the causes of facial droop. To schedule an exam and consultation with one of our facial paralysis specialists, call our office in NYC at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital.