Surgeon cut my articulate nerve during SMAS facelift what are repercussions?

Just had an SMAS face lift surgeon admitted cutting the auticular nerve, he said he repaired it and stitched it back together. What is the chance of permanent damage and what can be done to rectify it. Thank you.

Doctor Answers 6

Great auricular nerve injury

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This can happen when dissecting the tissues behind the ear and along the neck. Since he fixed it, you will likely get sensation back, but it  may take several months.  

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Damage to the greater auricular nerve

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Thanks for your question. Damage to nerves is always possible with cosmetic surgery but fortunately is rare. In your case, the greater auricular nerve provides sensation to the ear. When I was a resident, we frequently divided it while doing surgeries for cancer. While the affected ear was very numb for quite some time, usually after several months a lot of the sensation comes back. You may have permanent numbness in your earlobe, but usually people don't mind that too much. Be patient with it for now and you likely will see quite a lot of improvement. Good luck!

Robert S. Schmidt, MD
College Station Facial Plastic Surgeon

Damaged greater Auricular nerve

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The greater Auricular nerve emerges just behind the sternomastoid muscle about 5cm below the earlobe and often branches as it spreads upward to supply feeling to the lower part of the ear and some adjacent skin. If the main trunk of the nerve was cut but then accurately repaired then you should get partial recovery of sensation over the next year or so. Rarely a troublesome neuroma can form at the point where the nerve was cut and this leads to a highly localised tender trigger point that causes an unpleasant tingling sensation spreading up to the ear when the trigger point is tapped. This sensation can usually be improved by regular massage of the tender spot. Loss or damage to this nerve has no effect on hearing

Greater auricular nerve

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As the others have said, I believe that you mean the greater auricular nerve. If your surgeon repaired it, there is a reasonable chance tht the sensation will return but it could take a year so be patient.

Surgeon cut my articulate nerve during SMAS facelift what are repercussions?

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Hi, I have performed many facelifts over the past 30 years.  The greater auricular nerve is a sensory nerve that provides sensation of the skin of the neck below the earlobe and the lower aspect of the earlobe itself.  Care must be taken when performing a facelift as this nerve is quite superficial when dissecting the neck tissues below the earlobes where the nerve is at risk of being injured or cut.  A careful, more superficial dissection in this area will often identify the nerve and thus prevent nerve damage.

 The consequence of damaging or cutting this nerve is a numbness of the skin in the area described above.  Because the nerve was immediately repaired, you might experience some continued numbness (in that area) followed by a gradual decrease in the numbness...anything at 2 years post facelift is likely the full extent of the nerve regeneration.

Hope this helps.

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

Greater Auricular Nerve Injury with Facelift

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I think you mean the greater auricular nerve, which provides sensation to the lower half of the ear and some of the pre-auricular skin. This is the most common nerve injury in a facelift. Since your plastic surgeon recognized and repaired the nerve, hopefully you will regain normal sensation again in the areas affected by the distribution of this nerve. If not, you may experience some numbness in these areas. Wishing you a complete recovery. This nerve does not effect muscular function. 

Fred J. Bressler, MD, FACS
Houston 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.