Numb ears after mini facelift?

I am wondering what nerve or nerves have to be cut to cause numbing of the entire ear after a mini facelift?? I had a mini facelift 5 months ago. I know it takes a LONG time for nerves to repair themselves, if they repair at all!! I'm just wondering what nerves could have been cut? I'm just trying to figure this out. The procedure went great and my doctor did an amazing job...with the BIG exception of this numbing around my entire ears. Any and all help will be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you so much!

Doctor Answers 6

Nerve injury

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I'm glad to hear that you are happy w/ your appearance. There is a sensory nerve that supplies the ear called the Greater Auricular Nerve. It can be injured during facelift surgery where dissection is carried out into the neck below the ear. However, the mini-facelifts tend to have less of a risk than with the full, standard surgery where an incision is made down the hairline behind the ear. It will likely get a little a better as time goes on. Best wishes.

Leawood Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Sensory Nerve Damage After Facelift

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Thank you for your question.  It would be the sensory nerves which are injured during a facelift and necklift.  Please be aware this can take 3-6 months before the nerve ends rejoin and sensation returning.  All The Best 

Numb Ears after a Facelift

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Numbness or muscle weakness following a #facelift is not uncommon.  When the skin is separated from the underlying tissues during #surgery, small sensory nerves are cut. Varying degrees of #numbness will be present after surgery and will improve gradually as the nerves reconnect to the skin. This process can take from 2-6 months for face, neck and cheeks, and to 9-12 months for the forehead and scalp. Muscle #weakness may also be present around the mouth especially if liposuction is used. This typically recovers fully in the months after surgery. If you have certain concerns about the procedures and #healing process, it is recommended to call your board-certified surgeon or their medical staff and discuss those #concerns.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Numbness after mini facelift

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To perform a mini facelift (or standard facelift), the skin around the ear is elevated off the underlying tissue.  During this process the nerves that give that skin sensation are divided.  During the healing process, these nerves reattach to the skin and your sensation will slowly return over about 2-3 months or so.

The ear itself may or may not be numb after the surgery.  Some of the swelling from the healing process in this area and effect your sensation and give the ear some temporary numbness.  This should also recover over a few months.

Signs of your numbness going away and sensation returning can include itchiness or small "twinges" of pain.  This is a good indication that the nerves are reattaching to the skin.

As mentioned by other doctors, absolute numbness that has lasted 5 months may indicate the the greater auricular nerve (which is the main nerve that supplies sensation to your ear) was either injured or cut during the procedure.  This is a well-known, but rare, risk of the surgery.  

I recommend bringing this up with your surgeon and have him/her take a look.  There may be some options to possibly improve your sensation in this area.  Unfortunately there may be a possibility that the numbness may be permanent.

Best of luck.

Kyle T. Yamamoto, MD
Reno Facial Plastic Surgeon

Ear numbness

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Typically the greater auricular nerve is at risk during facelifting procedure.  The nerve runs on top of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and can be injured during skin elevation.   If this is the case, usually the earlobe or lower third of the auricle is affected.  At 5 months, sensation is unlikely to return.  Usually sensory nerve injury that is not permanent returns at 3 months postop.  Nonetheless, if sutures were placed in the area of the nerve, you may consider a procedure to release these to see if your symtpoms improve. 

Mini lift and numbness

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Thanks for sharing.  There will normally be decreased feeling from where the skin was lifted.  Although unlikely with a mini lift, a sensory nerve can be damaged (stretched, burned, or cut) resulting in more prolonged or permanent numbness.  At 5 months post op the nerves are still "growing" back into the skin so there is still time for the feeling to return.  I would say after 1 year post op the healing is all done. I wish the best for you.

Raymond E. Lee, MD
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 101 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.