Aesthetic treatments are being offered privately by inexperienced clinicians to people with facial palsy as a ‘quick fix’. These treatments alone offer no long-term tangible improvement to patients and can make future surgeries more complicated. They are also expensive.
Thread lifts and facial palsy
There is a lack of research and evidence to support the use of thread lifts for patients with facial palsy. Thread lifts barely last a year in patients with normal facial muscle tone. They last even less time in those with flaccid facial paralysis as the thin threads are unable to withstand the force of gravity acting on the soft tissues.
Before and after photos used to promote thread lifts for treating facial palsy are often misleading, with some natural recovery occurring before the thread lift is carried out. Other tricks used are to have the after-photos of patients wearing full makeup in softer lighting.
As well as having limited effectiveness and longevity, thread lifts carry significant risks like any surgical procedure. One of the more common side effects is puckering of the cheek skin, which can be very difficult to correct at a later stage.
Experts in facial palsy state that due attention needs to be given to reconstruction – loss of function and asymmetry are the major issues. It is important to remember that evidence-based aesthetic treatments may be available via the NHS. There are specialist NHS facial palsy teams who offer a joined-up multidisciplinary service with access to surgery, specialist facial therapy and psychological support.
Fillers and facial palsy
Fillers are synthetic products injected into the skin or deeper tissue that help fill in facial wrinkles and improve contour. Although there may be a role in helping improve symmetry in patients with facial palsy, fillers are not first line treatment and injections are often directed at different areas to conventional aesthetic filler treatments. Therefore, an understanding of the underlying processes in facial nerve disorders is crucial to be able to use fillers appropriately. The risks of filler injections are also not insignificant and patients should have a full understanding of potential complications before undergoing treatment.
Finding help via the NHS
There are many treatments to help patients with facial palsy but no quick fix as promoted by some private aesthetic clinics. Evidence-based treatments, surgeries and therapies are available via the NHS. However, it can be difficult for some patients to get a referral either due to lack of knowledge locally among GPs, lack of expertise at the local hospital or due to funding issues. Facial palsy is often mistakenly assumed to be a cosmetic condition and not one affecting facial function, psychological wellbeing and quality of life. It can take some time to get a referral to a specialist team, this is something Facial Palsy UK is working to improve. You can find more information on our website about seeking a referral to a specialist. If you are having problem getting a referral to an NHS specialist, please contact our support team.
Last reviewed: 22-02-2021 || Next review due: 22-02-2023