07/02/15 – Botox gives Spurs supporter back her smile

First Facial Palsy Awareness Week Launches 1-7 March 2015

Before surgery

Before surgery

A couple of months after facial palsy onset

Two months after surgery

Facial Palsy Awareness Week is to take place during the first week of March every year. The week highlights issues to the general public and health professionals about the true impact of facial palsy, a condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK and has over 30 different causes. The effects of facial palsy can be devastating, yet they are often misunderstood by health professionals, employers and the general public. Treatments are available which can greatly improve a person’s quality of life but only some patients are offered them.

Atima Bhatnagar, aged 35, from Wembley, had an operation to correct her hearing four years ago, as she suffers from a condition called Otosclerosis, a disease of the bone in the middle ear. Unfortunately her facial nerve was damaged during the operation, resulting in facial palsy. Atima explains:

“It was an extremely hard time for me and my partner as I was also pregnant with twins and feeling very sick. One thing I learnt is no one can understand what it is like to lose your smile, unless they have experienced it themselves. Facial palsy has affected me in ways I could not have imagined. I don’t take the ‘little’ things for granted anymore. I suffered from depression, anxiety and loss of confidence as a result. It was like the person I was looking at in the mirror was not me. I didn’t want to show my face to people, I wanted to hide away.”

Facial palsy patients can really benefit from access to the right care and treatments. Atima says:

Before Botox

Before Botox

“I was referred to the Facial Palsy Clinic at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead a few months prior to giving birth. I was given facial exercises which really helped loosen the muscles and regain tone on the affected side of my face. After I stopped breast feeding, my Botox® therapy started, and all I can say is wow, what a difference it has made to my life. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to raise the lip or cheek muscles on the affected side let alone ever be able to smile again. I would like to tell others who are facing the same issues I did, to never give up.”

A Tottenham Hotspur season ticket holder and a fan for over 14 years, Atima found it difficult in the cold at football matches, she recalls:

“As a result of the injury to my facial nerve, my face would really tense up in winter. The Botox injections and the exercises really helped to relieve that tension and I can now enjoy a pain-free game.”

A keen beauty blogger and vlogger, Atima is keen to raise awareness in the industry about facial palsy. She says:

After Botox

After Botox

“I’ve always had a passion for art but found it hard to fit in around my now three year old identical twin daughters and my full-time job as an IT Service manager. I started doing nail art as a hobby and it has really helped me regain confidence after the facial palsy. I am now encouraging other nail technicians to get involved in Facial Palsy Awareness Week by asking them to draw faces on nails, do half and half nails to show asymmetry, and more.”

According to consultant plastic surgeon and chairman of Facial Palsy UK’s medical advisory board Charles Nduka:

“A large proportion of patients experience facial pain and spasms following damage to the facial nerve. Surgery is rarely used but a combination of specialist physiotherapy and muscle-relaxing injections can be very effective. We also see patients who have suffered bullying, discrimination at work and relationship issues as a result of facial palsy which is why we want to raise awareness of what it’s like to have an asymmetric face.”

ENDS

About Facial Palsy UK (www.facialpalsy.org.uk), charity established 2012.

More about Facial Palsy Awareness Week

Charity Aims

  • To increase awareness of facial palsy and its social, physical and psychological consequences.
  • To provide information and support for people living with facial palsy, their relatives, carers and medical professionals.
  • To promote diagnosis, acute and long-term management and rehabilitation of people living with facial palsy.
  • To establish support groups throughout the UK.
  • To raise funds to support research and training for professionals involved in the diagnosis, management and treatment of facial palsy. This should allow for better treatments, which should be made accessible to all.

For case studies, photos and more information contact:

Karen Johnson
Tel: 0300 030 9333
Email: media@facialpalsy.org.uk

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Last reviewed: 20-11-2016    ||    Next review due: 20-11-2018