Bell's Palsy: When Facial Paralysis Doesn't Get Better
How long does Bell’s palsy last?
When should I see a doctor for Bell’s palsy?
Patrick Byrne, M.D., M.B.A. , is a professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins, and heads the Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center . He’s an expert in facial reanimation – surgery to help restore motion and expression to the face after Bell’s palsy, stroke, or other conditions.
He notes that for persistent facial paralysis, it’s best not to wait too long before consulting an expert.
“There's a window period after an initial injury when the muscles of facial expression are still salvageable,” Byrne says. “If we can intervene early and time it well, we can save the natural muscles of expression and regenerate that ability to smile and blink.”
He says he and his team of surgeons use a number of different approaches to reanimate the face after Bell’s palsy. Doctors can move a branch of nerve from elsewhere in the face and use it to replace the damaged one. If the muscles in the face no longer function, the surgeon can harvest tissue from a muscle in the inner leg called the gracilis to restore movement.
Facial Paralysis Surgical Options: What You Need to Know from a Johns Hopkins Expert
Restoring Facial Function and More
“Johns Hopkins is a terrific place for patients with facial paralysis,” Byrne says, “because we have so much experience and expertise. We’re one of the busiest centers in the world.”
Byrne adds that his patients get a lot more than highly skilled facial plastic surgery. “We have a true team approach. In addition to surgeons, we also have a comprehensive research program that studies outcomes in facial paralysis. We are unique in that regard.”
The group also supports recovering patients with speech therapists, neurologists for facial motor testing and a facial retraining expert: a dedicated physical therapist who works with people affected by facial paralysis.
He says that the team excels in both microsurgery (the knitting together of delicate blood vessels, using a microscope) and facial aesthetic surgery (surgery to restore beauty and balance to the facial features).
“We can choose from a range of techniques we have available to restore a more beautiful, normal appearing face.”
Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Care – Convenient Location
The world-renowned facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons of Johns Hopkins are now offering cosmetic and reconstructive services at Green Spring Station – Lutherville, Pavilion III, with free parking and easy access to I-695 and I-83.