I am suffering nerve pain in both of my ears from a lower face/neck lift that I had 5 months ago. Will this resolve on its own?

I have prickly pain in my ears (especially ear lobes) with intermittent acute pain in spots on and around my ears. I tried Neurontin which helped the pain but had horrible side effects and other drugs and cortisone injections in the grtr auricular nerves that did nothing. My surgeon wants to open up the area around the nerve to see if there are sutures that didn't dissolve but I am afraid of making it worse. Everyone tells me it will resolve on its own but I have had no improvement so far.

Doctor Answers 6

Ear Lobe Pain

It certainly sounds like you have compression of your Great Auricular Nerve (GAN).  You are 5 months out of from surgery and so the majority of your swelling should be gone.  You have also tried conservative treatment without improvement.  Typically neuropathic pain will get better on its own and so I would try to hold off on surgical intervention at this time.  If it continues after another 4-6 months then consider surgery.  Take Care.

Timothy A. Janiga MD, FACS

Ear pain post face ift

Nerves can get very "irritated following face lifts, and as a nerve recovers from trauma from surgery pain fibers wake up many weeks if not months before the regular sensation fibers get back to normal. Complete numbness can mean a nerve is very damaged, but pain can often resolve with gentle massage or the area, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like Aleve or Motrin ( If you have no contraindications ). Another non-invasive option that works well in our office to quiet down this type if problem is low level laser therapy (Erchonia) which settles down inflammation around the nerve and may require a couple treatments over a couple weeks, but is completely non-invasive with no pain or down time so you might look into that option in your area, but always check with your surgeon first so they can advise you. Remain upbeat and hopefully you'll get better soon.

Jeffrey Nelson, MD
Tucson Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Postoperative recovery

Agreed, nerve symptoms after surgery can occur that take an amount of time to resolve/stabilize.. another thought is checking to see if your surgeon would recommend a pain medicine specialist ...

Pain after Facelift

If you can tolerate it, I'd recommend waiting until you are a full year out from surgery before attempting any invasive procedures. You may want to try another steroid injection if you can find a "trigger point", an area that is very tender that can reproduce your symptoms.

Andrew Campbell, M.D.

Facial Plastic Specialist

Quintessa Aesthetic Centers

Andrew Campbell, MD
Milwaukee Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 26 reviews


Thank you for posting your question. You may have nerve compression caused by post-surgical swelling. Surgery at this stage may not be the best option as it will increase swelling. I recommend taking nerve block medications for now and following up closely with your physician. Best of luck.

Jan Zemplenyi, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Ear lobe pain after face lift

Thank you for asking about your ear lobe pain.

  • It sounds as though the greater auricular nerve (GAN) to the ear lobe was irritated by surgery.
  • Surgery now would be difficult because you will still be swollen.
  • What about asking your surgeon to do a series of marcaine nerve blocks of the GAN -
  • They will sometimes rest the nerve, reduce the pain and help the nerve heal.
  • In about 9 - 12 months, if the nerve hasn't improved then it makes sense to explore it surgically.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

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.