Facial paralysis occurs when irregular function of the facial nerve causes you to lose voluntary muscle movement on one or both sides of the face. This loss can be temporary or permanent, and it can affect your entire face or just one part of it. Regardless of the specifics, facial paralysis in any form can create extreme challenges for those affected, and correcting it requires the specialized care of a highly skilled reconstructive and facial plastic surgeon in Seattle, like Dr. James M. Ridgway.

What Causes Facial Nerve Paralysis?

The facial nerve controls all of the muscles in the face. It extends down from the side of the skull and divides into smaller branches that connect to various muscles used to control the eyebrows, eyelids, mouth, and lips.

Once the facial nerve is damaged for any reason, it can prevent you from moving certain muscles in the face – leading to facial paralysis. There are many ways for the facial nerve to become injured. With that said, the most common causes of facial paralysis and facial nerve injury include:

Bell’s palsy

The most common type of facial paralysis is Bell’s palsy. It’s a facial nerve disorder that causes sudden paralysis or weakness of the facial muscles on one side of the face.

Parotid tumors

The facial nerve passes directly through the parotid gland. As such, when parotid tumors are surgically removed, the facial nerve may be damaged or cut. 

Other tumors and cancers

Both benign and malignant tumors can cause facial paralysis in two ways. They may grow on the facial nerve and prevent it from functioning properly, or they may lead to the facial nerve being damaged during surgery to remove the tumor. 


Head trauma may result in damage to the facial nerve, which can lead to facial paralysis or weakness. 


Synkinesis is a common problem associated with facial paralysis. It develops due to nerve fibers of the facial nerve implanting into different muscles while it’s healing, resulting in unwanted facial movements.

The extent of your facial paralysis, as well as your treatment, will depend largely upon the underlying cause. As such, Dr. Ridgway will take care to definitively determine what led to your condition before composing a customized treatment plan designed to resolve your paralysis as completely and effectively as possible.

Background media

Preparing for Treatment

Because the facial nerve is so delicate, and the surgery to correct facial paralysis is so precise, Dr. Ridgway will spend a great deal of time thoroughly preparing for your procedure. Treatment will begin during your consultation, when Dr. Ridgway will evaluate your injury and gather key information about your medical history that will help him plan for your care. We also ask that you bring any medical documents that may relate to your injury, including written reports, imaging, and any diagnostic studies that have been performed.

How is Facial Paralysis Treated?

The procedures used to treat facial paralysis and restore dynamic facial movement are called facial reanimation. Your exact treatment plan will depend on the extent of your paralysis (whether it’s complete or partial, permanent or temporary), as well as the underlying cause. However, in general, BOTOX Cosmetic and specialized surgeries are the most common methods used.

Learn more about facial reanimation »

Banner media

Schedule a Consultation

If you are unable to move all or part of your face due to an injury to the delicate facial nerve, we encourage you to schedule a consultation for among the best facial paralysis treatments Bellevue has to offer Dr. James M. Ridgway today. During your private meeting, he will carefully evaluate your injury before composing a custom treatment plan designed to restore natural movement to your face.

Schedule a consultation

Schedule A Consultation

If you are ready to refresh and rejuvenate your look today, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of the best plastic surgeons Seattle has to offer: Dr. James M. Ridgway. During your private consultation Dr. Ridgway will carefully evaluate your face and the subtle imperfections that concern you most before providing you with a personalized blend of Bellevue cosmetic surgery procedures that will help you achieve your ideal facial appearance.

Book now
Contact us media
Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at (425) 279-7060.
Contact Us