I was shot in the face and had to have surgery to repair the fragments in my cheek and nose. The surgery was almost a month ago but the left side of my face is still numb. How long does the recovery take and when will the numbness go away?
One Month Since my Nose and Cheek Surgery - Why is my Face Still Numb?
Doctor Answers (4)
Numbness after facial surgery
Paresthesia (numbness) is very common after facial trauma and repair. The extent of recovery depends on the nature of the sensory nerve injury. Whether the nerve is crushed, severed or simply bruised can all affect the rate and amount of recovery. The good news is that most patients get sensation back over time. Donald R. Nunn MD, DDS Plastic Surgeon.
Facial Numbness after Trauma
Numbness in the face after an injury can often be a challenging issue. From what you have written, it sounds as if you may have injured the infraorbital nerve. This nerve exits the skull from just under the bone of the eye socket and gives feeling to the majority of the middle face.
I have treated many patients with severe fractures of the bones in this area who had numbness in the middle of the face. Many of them had a good return of feeling by 6 months postop. So keep hope! Often repositioning the bones so the nerve is not pinched or removing bone can be helpful.
Keep a postive outlook, and how wonderful that you came through such a terrible ordeal.
Nerve damage, numbness timeline.
The way nerves heal is sort of mysterious. They often get better, sometimes the improvement happens way down the line. By the way, congratulations on surviving the injury. You look pretty good, considering the injury. Some people believe in electrical muscle stimulation to keep the muscle that the injured nerve serves alive and well. For the infraorbital nerve, this would be the orbicularis oris, left upper lip. Ask your doctor about it.
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Numbness after facial trauma and surgery
Numbness after severe facial trauma like a gunshot wound is not uncommon, and may indeed get better.
If you have not, this is certainly something to discuss with your surgeon. He/she may know details which will help clarify your expectations. One of the biggest questions is whether or not you had numbness in those areas after the injury, but before the surgical repair. If you had lost sensation of those areas after the accident but before surgery, the loss is more likely to be permanent. The main nerves which give sensation to the cheek exit the cheek bones below the eyes (infraorbital nerves). If those nerves were severed by bullet fragments, they may not recover.
However, surgery (or the trauma itself) in this area can often stretch or bruise the nerves, which makes them stop working temporarily. Any surgery in the area of the infraorbital nerve can cause numbness. As long as the nerve was not cut, sensation will usually come back, but could take 6-8 months. This recovery of the nerve is usually heralded by tingling or other unusual sensations in the numb area.
Best wishes to a speedy recovery!
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