You’re becoming acquainted with your infant daughter who was recently born in a Louisville hospital. She’s absolutely beautiful—the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen…except that the right side of her face doesn’t seem to be moving at all when her expression changes on the left. Is something wrong?
What Is Facial Palsy?
Facial palsy is paralysis of part of the face as a result of a nonfunctioning facial nerve. There are many possible causes of facial palsy—some genetic, some occurring from injury while the baby was developing, and some caused by trauma during birth. According to the Facial Nerve Center, if a baby is born with no other abnormalities besides facial palsy, there’s a good chance that the injury occurred during birth.
Birth injuries from skull base, fractures forceps delivery, and shoulder dystocia may result in facial palsy. Because these are usually crush injuries, they often heal spontaneously.
Symptoms of Facial Palsy
The paralysis of facial palsy is usually confined to one side of the face. According to the British Oculoplastic Surgery Society, that side appears flattened, with no forehead wrinkles or horizontal lines, a droopy eyebrow, an eye that doesn’t close easily, and the corner of the mouth pulled down.
The effect of facial palsy on the eye is significant. Because the upper eyelid may be too high and the lower eyelid may droop and have an ectropian (turn outward), the eye is unable to close completely. This combination causes the eye to water frequently and the cornea to become dry. The eye may redden and vision may blur. In some cases, the cornea develops ulcers and then scars, resulting in a further loss of vision.
Eye drops, ointments, and artificial tear solutions offer some relief for the dry eye. Horizontally taping the eyelid shut at night also helps. Sometimes, Botox is used to literally paralyze the upper eyelid, allowing it to close over and protect the eye.
Surgery may be considered for some patients. Here are some of the surgical procedures for facial palsy symptoms:
- lateral tarsorrhaphy: to surgically close the outer area of the eyelid, thereby reducing the length of the eyelid and exposing less of the eye to the air.
- lateral tarsal strip: to tighten the lower eyelid for improved closure.
- lateral tarsal strip tarsorrhaphy: a combination of two procedures with the aim of protecting the eye well.
- medial canthoplasty: to pull up a sagging lower eyelid toward the inner corner.
- gold weight upper eyelid: placement of a gold weight in the upper eyelid, enabling it to move and close better.
- drooping eyebrow surgery: to raise a drooping eyebrow; also called brow ptosis correction.
- face surgery: surgical lifts to areas of the face can improve symmetry between the two sides, improve a sagging lower lid, or help resuspend the mouth.
Has Your Family Been Impacted By A Birth Injury?
If your family has been impacted by a birth injury you need to speak with an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.