5 Months After Lower Facelift & Platysmaplasty Do These Symptoms Sound Like Greater Auricular Nerve Damage?

1.Right side of neck & ear occasionally feel much tighter & “tingly” than left side 2.Right ear occasionally feels plugged (ENT says ear is OK) 3.Still slightly numb in front of both ears. There is no difference in degree of numbness R vs L and numbness has decreased significantly on both sides since surgery. 4.No part of the ear itself on either side or neck below ears was ever numb. Everything looks great. Does this sound like GAN damage on the right side? If so, what to do? Thank you.

Doctor Answers 7

Cosmetic Surgery is an Art and a Science

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The nerve you are concerned about likely was not injured. Most of the symptoms you described should improve with time.Concentrate on your new look. All the best.

Great Auricular Nerve Damage

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   If there is no numbness in the earlobes, the great auricular nerve was not likely injured to any meaningful degree.  The tingling may be due from many things but usually resolves with time.

Gradually Improving Numbness of Skin 5 Months after Facelift. GAN Damage?

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No, not a GAN injury.

The greater auricular nerve has two branches, anterior and posterior.Since you never had ear numbness, the main trunk of the greater auricular nerve and the posterior branch were not injured. Injury most commonly occurs near where the nerve comes out around the back of the sternocleidomastoid muscle  about 2-3 inches below the ear. This is before it divides into the anterior and posterior branches. The anterior branch supplies the cheek skin in front of the ear overlying the parotid gland. Some trigeminal nerve branches also overlap in supplying that skin. That skin is always numb for some time after a facelift because it has been elevated. You noted that this area is gradually and progressively getting feeling back. This means you are healing, and as the months go by this skin should regain normal feeling.

The posterior branch supplies the skin of the front and back of the outer half of the ear and earlobe. You had no numbness of this area or the neck skin under the ear.

Here is a reference for the anatomy.

Here's an anatomy image for reference.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Great auricular nerve injury?

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If your sensation is improving and the numbness is confined to the front of the ear, it is unlikely a great auricular nerve injury.  Likley it will get better with time.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

GAN Damage

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Nope, no GAN damage by your description. Please give yourself time to heal completely. If you are happy with your result it should only improve with time. Best,


Gary R Culbertson, MD, FACS

Gary R. Culbertson, MD
Columbia Plastic Surgeon

Nerve Damage After Facelift

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From what you are describing, it sounds like you need more time to heal before you will be able to see the final results of your surgeries. During this time, it is important to be patient and to continue observing the areas that are of concern to you. Seek the advice of your plastic surgeon if you are still worried. 

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

Possible great auricular nerve damage after facelift

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I would say that the symptoms you describe sound like relatively normal healing after a facelift and platysmaplasty, and do not sound like damage to the great auricular nerve.  Frequently, both sides do not heal exactly the same, so it's not unusual to have one side feel tighter than the other.  The tingly feeling is fairly normal as the sensation begins to return to the skin.  I'm not sure about the right ear plugging you've been having, but it sounds as if you've had that checked out already.  I would just keep an eye on these issues and would expect them to improve over time.  If they don't seem to be getting better, I would return to your surgeon for a better evaluation.  

Michael I. Echavez, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

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.