Can a necklift with incisions behind the ear cause permanent damage to nerve endings in the ear?

Doctor Answers 15

Great Auricular Nerve Damage after Necklift

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   The great auricular nerve can be injured during a necklift, but I have not had this issue.  This can occur if the great auricular nerve or a branch runs superficially along the dermis.

Nerve damage in neck lift very very rare.

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The greater auricular nerve can be cut, but this is a surgical error which happens extremely rarely, and it can often be repaired.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Numbness of Ear after Neck lift or Face lift

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Some numbness typically occurs after neck lift or face lift when incisions are placed behind or around the ears. Most of this numbness resolves within a few months. Speak with your plastic surgeon regarding any questions or concerns.


Dr. Chaboki


Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Neck Lift and Sensory Nerves

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Some degree of temporary numbness is caused by any Neck lift or Facelift approach, which usually resolves within 3-6 months.  Although permanent numbness is a possibility, it is much less common and generally associated with injury to a larger nerve of sensation (greater auricular nerve or lesser occipital nerve).

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

Ear Numbness After Facelift

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All facelift patients will experience numbness of the ear for a short period of time after surgery due to the cutting of small sensory nerves The feeling in the ear will return in a month or two as these nerves regrow. Permanent numbness of the ear is possible if the greater auricular nerve has been injured, which is a very large nerve that crosses the sternocleidomastoid muscle well below the ear in the raising of the neck skin flap. 

Neck Lift and Nerve Injury

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It can happen, but the injury is not behind the ear but lower. The Great Auricular Nerve is about 6.5 cm below the ear lobe, so the injury is during the surgery - down lower, not right behind the ear.

This is the most commonly injured nerve from a neck lift or facelift. It is considered a facelift risk or neck lift risk.

The good news is that the injury is rare and usually gets better with time!

Neck lift recovery and facelift recovery takes time. Let the bruising and swelling go away. Most of the time the numbness resolves as the bruising and swelling go away.

Christopher Saunders, MD
Wilmington Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Permanent nerve damage not likely

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Temporary numbness is very common after surgery but this typically resolves over time - after 6-12 months

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Neck Lift and Damage to Nerves in the Ear

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The greater auricular nerve runs in the area of the neck lift incision.  It is possible to injure the nerve when elevating the flap especially if the flap is lifted too deep. 

Michael Sundine, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon

Can a necklift with incisions behind the ear cause permanent damage to nerve endings in the ear?

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Yes. This is possible after either a facelift or an isolated necklift procedure. Fortunately, the numbness is usually temporary and returns to normal within months after the procedure. There are many technical reasons why you might experience numbness in the ear after a necklift procedure. However, it is rare for the nerve to be permanently injured. I hope this information is helpful.

Stephen Weber MD, FACS

Ear nerve injury

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One of the more common complications of facelift and necklift surgery is numbness of the external ear, usually the ear lobe.  Fortunately, if this occurs at all, it is usually temporary. 

The Great Auricular nerve provides the sensation to much of the ear and it can be stretched in facelift procedures.  In fact, it is the most commonly injured nerve during this procedure.  

Though it may take many months, the sensation does generally return. Often this is proceeded by itching, crawling sensations or electric shock sensations.  These are good signs that means the nerve is healing.  I hope you find this information useful.

Andrew Winkler, MD
Lone Tree Facial 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.