Face/neck Lift (SMAS/platysmaplasty) Three Weeks Ago and Have Left Ear Numbness

Since a face/neck lift 3 weeks ago, the entire outside of my left ear is completely numb (there is slight sensation at the very top of the ear and some sensation in the center of my near the canal, but NO feeling in around the ear (including the earlobe). There is also a feeling of fullness/pressure in my left left ear canal. It feels like there is just a lump of clay sitting on the side of my head. Should I have some sensation in my ear by now? Should I see a neurologist?

Doctor Answers 12

Numbness of earlobe

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This is an injury to or swelling obstructing the great auricular nerve.Speak to your doctor about this . It rarely returns 

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Ear Numbness 3 Weeks Post Rhinoplasty

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The symptoms you describe are secondary to an injury to the great auricular nerve. Hopefully the trauma is minimal and sensation will return. Talk to your surgeon and ask about seeing a neurologist for an evaluation. It is normal and temporary to have decreased feeling in the skin in front and back of the ear.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Numbness at 3 Weeks around Ear after Facelift

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   While numbness may likely recover in this area, your external auditory canal should be examined as well for foreign bodies.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Great auricular nerve injury is common.

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The numbness is very disturbing.  Often however, these injuries get better in time.  The awareness of a pins and needles sensation is a sign of recovery.  In my experience, if the sensation is not better by 6 months is can be permanent.  I recommend that you discuss this concern with your plastic surgeon.

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

Face/neck Lift (SMAS/platysmaplasty) Three Weeks Ago and Have Left Ear Numbness

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At this point after your facelift, numbness around the ear is normal. You should start getting some sensation back in about 4 to 6 weeks which can take up to 18  months to resolve. However, if you do not regain sensation or tingly sensations within 6 to 12 weeks, the greater auricular nerve could be damaged (supplies sensation to that part of the ear) This could also account for the fullness in your ear but also may be ear wax with dried blood from the surgery.Ask your surgeon to take a look.

Oleh Slupchynskyj, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 285 reviews

Ear is numb after facelift

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The most common nerve injury in facelift is the great auricular (as in ear) nerve which is located about two inches below the ear in the neck. The numbness is profound as yours is, though the sensation in the canal is present because this area is supplied by a different nerve. A neurologist will know what is up, and your plastic surgeon certainly will as well.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Numb ear after facelift--neurologist not necessary!

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Your ear numbness is secondary to injury to the great auricular nerve, which is the sensory nerve to the areas you describe. This will gradually heal and sensation return over time IF the nerve was simply bruised, stretched, or inflamed after surgery. Recovery is variable but can take weeks to as long as several months. If the nerve was severed (it is quite superficial and is the most commonly injured nerve with facelift surgery), it will not recover, but other nerve regrowth will diminish the extent and severity of your numbness.

The feeling of fullness in your ear canal may be related to this same sensory loss, or may be as simple as a retained cotton ball in your ear  canal, or dried blood. Ask your surgeon about this--a quick exam can identify the issue and fix either of these causes.

A neurologist is of no value in this situation except to tell you what I and your other expert consultants have already told you; you would (should) be referred back to your surgeon for additional follow-up and discussion. Best wishes!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Ear numbness after a face lift

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Go back to your plastic surgeon. 

  • the nerve affected is the Greater auricular nerve.
  • It comes up to the skin from the muscle about an inch below the earlobe.
  • It provides feeling to the outer ear
  • Treatment will depend on why it is numb. Discuss possibilities with your surgeon. It can be swelling, pressure from the bandage, a suture or damage to the nerve. 
  •  Once you and your surgeon have a treatment plan  - then consider a second opinion, personally I would first see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. 

‚ÄčI'm sorry this happened but it can be addressed. Best wishes.

Face/neck Lift (SMAS/platysmaplasty) Three Weeks Ago and Have Left Ear Numbness

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 You should, IMHO, go back to the plastic and cosmetic surgeon that performed your Face Lift and ask him/her about the degree and location of the numbness.  If appropriate, your Face Lift Surgeon should refer to you a neurologist or other specialist.  In principles, injury to the Greater Auricular Nerve in the neck will cause localized numbness to the neck and the earlobe.  It would not create numbness of the entire ear which could be typical post Face Lift temporary numbness from surgical dissection and temporary disruption of cutaneous nerves below the skin.  This typically resolves within a few months.  Hope this helps.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Ear numbness=nerve injury or bruise

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Your symptoms are indeed indicative of an injury to the greater auricular nerve. This is actually the most common sensory nerve injured during a face lift. The nerve is located fairly superficial and crosses the sternocleidomastoid muscle below the angle of your jaw. You may also just have stretching of this nerve, or some type of an injection injury from a needle while the local was being infused.  Had you surgeon recognized this injury when it happened it should have been microsurgically repaired. If it truly was cut and not recognized then you will likely have a numb ear for ever. Other nerves in the area may help in the area by sprouting  little nerve endings. If it was a stretch injury or injection injury it will improve with time, remember you are only 3 weeks post op. wait 3 months. 

Charles Virden, MD
Reno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 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.