After 5 Years my Ear Pulses with Pain Like a Pin Stuck in There

I had a facelift 5 years ago. The left side of my face and ear were numb and it was painful to touch the skin. Now most of the numbness has gone away but it feels like there is a pin in my ear poking me over and over again. Slight bump in front of my left ear is very tender to touch and hurts. Now my jaw hurts to open. Is this something that can be corrected?

Doctor Answers 10

Pin point pain especially years after a face lift may be a neuroma

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Thank you for the question.  Your symptoms certainly sounds like you may have a neuroma or traction on nerve.  If the pain or symptoms have not resolved and are not improving you will want to try some non-invasive treatments first such as ultra-sound therapy or massage.  If does not help surgical exploration may be warranted.  Placing local anesthesia at the pain site may help define if the nerve issue is deep or superficial, near by or further away and radiating.

All the best,

Dr. Remus Repta

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 170 reviews

Pain five years after face lift

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The area of numbness and pain after a face lift suggest an injury to the nerve.greater auricular nerve. The nerve seems to have partly recovered but is forming a neuroma (overgrowth of nerve endings). The injury and neuroma may be in different places.

If I were your surgeon, I would evaluate you carefully, have you seen by a neurologist and if possible, by a surgeon specializing in facial nerve injuries.

This is likely to be treatable but first pin point -

  1.  the nerve injury or injuries in relation to the neuroma
  2.  any other possible causes of the pain
  3. what operation and/or medications might help.

Best wishes.

Ear pain 5 years after facelift

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I am sorry to hear about your experience.  Although there is no way to get the normal feeling back there may be options to reduce your pain.  Follow-up with your surgeon.

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Post- facelift ear pain

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Your symptom is highly suggestive of a neuroma that has developed over an injured greater auricular nerve, This is the most commonly injured nerve in facelift surgery. Once your doctor evaluates you closely, he/she can identify the exact location of the neuroma and test the theory with an injection of a local analgesic such as lidocaine or marcaine causing immediate relief of the pain. This may be repeated to incrementally improve sysmptoms or possibly your doctor may try an anti-seizure medication such as Gabapentin which has been shown to improve such nerve pain. This is rarely treated surgically but your surgeon would be helpful in the initial conservative treatment approach.

Edwin Ishoo, MD
Cambridge Facial Plastic Surgeon

Ear pain 5 years after Face Lift

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I have performed Face Lifts for over 20 years and IMHO, what you are describing is an injury to the greater auricular sensory nerve on that side of your neck.  Injury, to this nerve, creates numbness of the earlobe and a section of skin just below the earlobe.  The pain sensation sounds like a crossed reinnervation of the area from the nerve function returning.  There's no danger but this is likely what it will be from now on.  No way to repair the nerve damage.  Just MHO.


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It sounds like a neuroma.  I would return to your surgeon and let him/ her evaluate it.  That is the first step.  

Melanie L. Petro, MD
Birmingham Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Please see an ENT specialist

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I think you should see an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist for this.  I recommend Dr. Larian in Beverly Hills.

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Although unusual, this can be a late effect of the surgery which can be fixed.

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As the nerves regrow, there sometimes can be development of a "neuroma".  This is more frequent earlier, but can develop very late as well.

You also have "trigger point" which may be creating the problem especially in that you are having jaw pain.

I would not see a neurologist until I had evaluation by a plastic surgeon experienced in face lifts.

A plastic surgeon can do a hands on evaluation which may give you some insight into what is going on.

Nathan Mayl

Fort Lauderdale

Nathan Mayl, MD (retired)
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon

This is a post surgical dysesthesia.

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First I am happy to hear that your sensation regrew.  Dysesthesia after facial surgery can occur.  It is not really that common and the severity of the issue varies.  There is no surgical fix for this.  You might consider seeing a neurologist to explore the emperical use of anti-seizure medications.  Be aware that this is an off label use of these drugs and it may be that the risk of side-effect will not out weigh the clinical benefits.  Only you and your treating physician can make this determination.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Sensory nerve damage after facelift - how to fix it

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Thanks for your question -

I'm sorry to hear about the challenges you're facing after your facelift. 

There are ways to manage this pain - I would definitely start with the plastic surgeon that performed the procedure.  Things to determine might include - is it possible there is a stitch pulling or trapping the nerve (likely the greater auricular).

Treatment can include a nerve block at the site of the nerve to help diagnose if this is the issue -

simple things like massage can "re-educate" the nerve.  Steroid injection and scar revision can also play a role in improving your situation.

I hope this helps!

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.