Ear Numbness on One Side After Lower Facelift?

I had a lower face lift 9 weeks ago. One ear is still virtually, completely numb. I have feeling inside the ear, near and around the entrance to the canal - but none on the lobe or sides or top of the ear. At the very top of the lobe, where it connects to the opening of the ear area, I have a very slight sensation in a tiny spot. I am concerned about permanent nerve damage. The other ear has regained at least 80% sensation. What should I expect?

Doctor Answers (7)

Ear numbness after facelift

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During face and neck lift surgery, the face is rejuvenated by lifting the soft tissues that have dropped with facial ageing and restoring them to their natural position. As part of the surgery the excess and floppy skin that has become lax with time is partly removed. As part of the face and neck lift surgery, it is completely normal to have a degree of numbness around the face and neck during the healing period. The sensory nerves that provide sensation gradually improve after surgery between 6 weeks to 6 months. Numbness during this period gradually improves as the sensory nerves recover. It is rare for numbness to persist after 12months, however in the same way every person has relatively unique facial characteristics, very rarely numbness can be long lasting. Patients who have difficult adapting to this change may also find some tightness in their neck during the healing period. For these patients, MLD, manual lymphatic drainage a specific type of neck massage may be effective in improving their symptoms and reducing their recovery time.


London Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Ear numbness on one side after lower facelift?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Numbness after any surgical procedure is expected for several weeks to months following. As the nerves to the area are traumatized and will then experience a temporary neuropraxia, a transient loss of nerve conduction. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 weeks, but depending on the procedure performed, sometimes much longer. Typically this should resolve by 1 year. As it goes past this date, the likelihood of the sensation returning is small. However, it can take up to 2 years. If no return from there, it is unlikely to return. It should be discussed that persistent sensory changes may develop following any surgical procedure.  The Great Auricular Nerve may have some neuropraxia, or less likely damaged.  Sensation should return over weeks to months, but followup closely with your surgeon.

The usual signs of the nerves regenerating and neuropraxia resolving is itching, followed by a burning sensation and then occasional sharp, shock-like pains. These will be normal to experience, and actually a promising sign. Usually, normal sensation returns, but is is also possible to have decreased sensation or even increased sensation to the areas affected. Re-educating nerves postoperatively is often helpful and will allow proper instruction for the affected sensory nerves - methods include using different textures to the affected areas when showering, bathing, applying lotion, etc. If bothersome, there are some medications that may be helpful, including Neurontin for pain for hypersensitivity. You can try various textures such as washcloths, loofahs, cotton sheets, etc. Massaging the areas is also beneficial for the incision to make the finest scar possible. The last place to regain the sensation will be directly adjacent to the incision/scar as the nerves will make its way from the periphery to this location. If continual pain arises, evaluation is warranted. After ruling out other causes, one rare explanation may be that a neuroma has developed and may require surgical excision. This is very unlikely unless a large sensory nerve has been transected inadvertently during the procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Numbness

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The greater auricular nerve can be affected by neck surgery.
Most of the time numbness resolves as swelling & inflammation go away.
Occasionally numbness can be permanent but this is rare.

John Strausser, MD
Sarasota Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

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Numbness of Ear Lobe 9 Weeks after Facelift

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   Numbness of the ear at 9 weeks may be due to neuropraxic injury and should improve over several months to a year. 

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
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Ear numbness following lower facelift

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It is not abnormal to feel numbness around the ear at 9 weeks following a lower facelift. Numbness may be caused by temporary nerve damage, which will usually resolve itself within 6 months to a year following surgery. It may take even longer for a complete recovery, but it really depends on the patient and the extent of their surgery. It is too soon to tell whether or not any nerve damage you are experiencing is permanent, but this will rarely be the case. I would recommend speaking with your surgeon regarding the issues you are experiencing. He/she may be able to provide some additional insight. Thank you, and best of luck with the remainder of your recovery!

Paul S. Nassif, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
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Ear numbness after face lift

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Numbness of the facial region is normal after a face lift. Most sensation will eventually return to normal. This may take months to occur. There are time that ear may remain numb for an extended period of time, permanent numbness is possible but rare. You are still early so give it more time and see if there is slow return of sensation.

Shahriar Mabourakh, MD, FACS
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon
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Numbness in ear after lower facelift

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It is still early and you are still in the healing process. The numbness in your ear on one side after your lower facelift is rather common. The fact that sensation has returned in the other ear is also encouraging, but certainly bring this question up with your surgeon and he/she can make sure you are healing as planned.

Carlo Honrado, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.