Los Angeles Facial Paralysis Expert Responds to Recent Findings on Bell’s Palsy Management

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Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS, Director of the Facial Paralysis Institute in Los Angeles, discusses the implications of recent findings on Bell’s palsy management from a 12-year study.

Babak Azizzadeh MD
“There really is no reason not to treat Bell’s palsy, especially with an antiviral medication since it is believed that the condition is the result of a virus flare-up.

The findings from a 12-year Bell’s palsy study in the UK were recently released, showing the impact of past clinical trials on current Bell’s palsy management. The study focused on patients 16 years or older who were diagnosed with Bell’s palsy between the years 2001 and 2012 and the type of therapy used to treat them. The goal of the study was to determine whether popular Bell’s palsy clinical trials influenced the way the condition is treated in the UK.

“There are different schools of thought on the best way to manage Bell’s palsy. It is interesting to see which clinical trials international doctors are referring to when handling a Bell’s palsy case. It would certainly be groundbreaking to find one treatment that is definitively better than others for treating Bell’s palsy, but we’re not there yet,” said Babak Azizzadeh, MD, FACS, Los Angeles facial paralysis expert.

The clinical trials referenced in the study were the 2004 Cochrane review of the use of corticosteroids and antivirals for treating Bell’s palsy, and the 2007 Scottish Bell’s Palsy Study (SBPS) that clearly recommended the use of prednisolone alone to treat the condition. The UK study found that the release of the 2004 Cochrane review caused an immediate drop in the use of prednisolone therapy and a rise in combination therapy, whereas the release of the SBPS brought with it an increase in the use of prednisolone therapy. Despite improvement in Bell’s palsy treatment, roughly 44% of Bell’s palsy cases in the UK still go untreated.

“There really is no reason not to treat Bell’s palsy, especially with an antiviral medication since it is believed that the condition is the result of a virus flare-up. Even with medication, however, many Bell’s palsy patients experience lingering facial paralysis,” explained Dr. Azizzadeh.

One of the most effective treatments for facial paralysis caused by Bell’s palsy is Botox. Botox can be injected into specific facial muscles to relax unwanted movements on the non-paralyzed side and reduce the tension in areas affected by synkinesis. There are also surgical options available, such as masseter to facial nerve transfer, for Bell’s palsy patients with permanent facial paralysis.

“I regularly perform Botox injections in Bell’s palsy patients with great success. While it is critical that they get antivirals and/or steroids to treat the underlying cause of the condition, there is no reason to live with the visible effects of Bell’s palsy when a few simple Botox injections can dramatically improve the patient’s appearance,” said facial paralysis expert Dr. Babak Azizzadeh.

Since his extensive and prestigious training at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Azizzadeh has helped hundreds of people with varying degrees of facial paralysis. Dr. Azizzadeh is the director of the Facial Paralysis Institute and one of the leading figures in the field of Facial Nerve Paralysis. Dr. Azizzadeh has been recognized for his work on several occasions, and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and countless other media outlets.

Dr. Azizzadeh is trained in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, as well as Head & Neck Surgery, giving him a distinctive insight into facial nerve function and facial aesthetics. Dr. Azizzadeh also has extensive training in microsurgical facial reconstruction, which is often required for the treatment of people who are born with facial paralysis.

For more information about Botox for Bell's palsy, please contact the Facial Paralysis Institute today by calling (310) 657-2203.

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