Botox can effectively treat the after effects of Bell's palsy and other serious facial nerve problems, say researchers.
Bell's palsy results from damage to the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face.
Ear-nose-throat surgeon Dr. Matthew Kircher of Loyola University Medical Center is giving patients Botox injections to treat facial nerve disorders that sometimes occur after Bell's palsy, including unwanted facial movements known as synkinesis.
Botox injections work by weakening or paralyzing certain muscles or by temporarily blocking the nerve input into the muscles.
Facial synkinesis is the involuntary movement of one set of muscles when the patient tries to move another set of muscles. For example, when the patient blinks, the mouth smiles or grimaces.
Botox can improve the symmetry of the face and reduce muscle contractures and spasms.
Botox also is effective for platysmal banding - verticle lines that develop in the neck as a result of muscle contractions.
Kircher said that he starts out conservatively, treating patients with dilute doses.
After seeing how well the patient does, Kircher adjusts the dose if necessary.
Botox is not a cure. The drug wears off after three or four months, so patients need repeat injections.