Is It Common to Have Facial Nerve Injury After A Neck Tuck? (photo)

I have numbness around the perimeter of my face for the last 4 years and my neck is drooping. Dr. is willing to do a neck tuck, should I take a chance on possibly having more nerve damage or paralysis

Doctor Answers 4

Facial Nerve or Sensory Nerve Damage?

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Your description of symptoms is that of a sensory nerve deficit, or an injury to small branches of the Trigeminal and cervical sensory nerves.  Your photos show no evidence of a motor deficit, as one would see with an injury to a branch of the facial nerve.  Sensory deficits are very common after a Facelift, but are usually time limited (3-6 months) and almost all recover completely.  Facial nerve injuries should be exceedingly rare, since the branches of the nerve lie protected by deeper tissues, assuming proper technique is used. Having a revision procedure does have risks (including sensory deficits), but they should be similar to those of your primary procedure.

Facial Nerve Injury after Neck Lift

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While possible, it is extremely rare to see a permanent facial nerve injury, leading to muscle weakness, after a neck lift. Injury to the sensory nerves, leading to long term numbness, is more common, but still occurs in a small minority of patients. If you have numbness four years after your original surgery, it is possible that the Greater Auricular Nerve was injured.

With regard to a second neck lift, most patients experience temporary numbness around the ears and neck. It may take longer to go away after a second surgery. The risk of nerve injury may be slightly higher in a second procedure, but if done correctly, should still be very low.

Gregory J. Vipond, MD, FRCSC
Inland Empire Facial Plastic Surgeon

Numbness after facelift

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Numbness after a facelift procedure is common. Usually it lasts about 1-2 months, but can be quite variable. The surgical cuts small sensory nerves in general and function returns. There is one larger sensory nerve called the Great Auricular Nerve that controls sensation to portions of the ear (lobe) and face. Injury to this can possibly create sensation deficits permanently. However, in those who have this nerve "sacrificed" for cancer surgery in that area typically do well with respect to return of function. I also believe that with time, people end up caring less about the sensation deficit.

"Facial Nerve Injury" is a different matter altogether since the Facial Nerve (cranial nerve 7) is a motor nerve and is potentially a more devastating injury since it can impact your appearance and how the face can move. Portions of the Facial Nerve are also at risk during face lifting surgery. Most injuries result in temporary paralysis rather than permanent paralysis.

Michael Kim, MD

Michael M. Kim, MD
Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Nerve Damage after Neck Lift

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Sensory changes are always present after any tuck or lift. This usually returns to normal, either on its own or with a little help. You did not say whether the numbness you have is the result of a previous facelift or not. If it is, then there are several possibilities. If you have some sensation, but it is just “weird,” then what you have is a delayed recovery of the normal sensory changes after any facelift. You can recover normal sensation. It just takes sensory reeducation. If it is from something else, I would have to know what to advise further. Other nerve injury can occur, but is relatively infrequent, though, it is more so in secondary procedures. Talk to your surgeon about this.


Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon

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.