Facial Reanimation

Facial reanimation is a series of techniques used to restore the overall function, as well as aesthetics, of patients whose faces have always been or have become paralyzed.

Our Capabilities

UC Health is the only health system in the Cincinnati area to offer facial reanimation as a comprehensive program. This program encompasses experts from many specialities such as neurotology, facial plastic reconstruction, neurology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, occupational and physical therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation and psychology.

With the power of academic medicine, we have the capability and resources to address the problems that patients with facial paralysis experience.


Compassionate Healing Starts Here

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Our Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery subspecialists are double-board certified as head and neck surgeons, delivering patients the skills required for superior results in both cosmetic and functional procedures. Our physicians are national leaders in the most complex and innovative facial reconstruction techniques needed for traumatic injuries, cancer and other conditions.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Health Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery team at 513-475-8444.

Help Along the Way

Answers to Your Facial Reanimation Questions

Facial palsy or facial paralysis, can be caused by a variety of conditions. The most common cause is a virus such as with Bell’s palsy or Ramsay-Hunt syndrome. Other causes can include physical trauma such as a car accident or removal of cancerous or non-cancerous tumors that interfere with the facial nerves.

Depending on the cause and specific needs of the patient, facial reanimation can involve physical therapy, medical therapy or surgery. 

Surgical options that our team can perform include nerve transfers and grafting, rerouting facial nerves and free flap muscle transfer. The treatment option is specific to the patient and his or her specific needs.

Our team provides a variety of treatments of facial nerve disorders – from mild to complete paralysis, spasms and synkinesis/hyperkinesis (too much movement).

Almost all of our patients receive some level of improvement after seeing our experts in facial rehabilitation.

Specialized testing of facial function can include electrical testing of facial nerves and muscles. This technique can help the doctors provide treatment to best understand how to help treat the individual patient and provide a better outcome.

Facial reanimation can sometimes happen alongside treatment of the underlying problem that causes paralysis, whether it be head and neck cancer, a skull base tumor or another neurological condition. UC Health has providers with expertise in all of these fields who will work as a team to best treat the individual.

There are both functional and appearance-based benefits from receiving facial rehabilitation therapy.

Functional Benefits

  • Patients may have difficulties closing their eyes, which can expose the eye to scarring and dryness.

  • Patients may have speech impairment.

  • Patients may have difficulty eating normally, keeping food in their mouths as an example.

  • Nasal breathing issues are typically improved with treatment.

Appearance-Based Benefits

Communication - Appearance-based benefits allow an improvement in appearance both at rest and when moving the face muscles. This may enhance communication, as much of communication is nonverbal.

Psychological - Patients often have anxiety and even depression associated with their own facial appearance due to paralysis.

Improving overall function and appearance of the facial paralysis has a dramatic impact on the patient’s confidence and psychological state. Treatment can help patients regain their confidence and improve their overall well-being.

Any patient that has a facial nerve disorder, resulting from skull base tumors, physical trauma, Bell’s palsy, Ramsay-Hunt syndrome or a birth defect, can benefit from this treatment.

This depends on the severity of the condition and level of paralysis. Getting back to a perfect normal is not guaranteed; however, almost all patients see and feel meaningful improvements. We work with our patients to set realistic and achievable goals to get as close as possible to an expected outcome.

Results can be immediate but can also take up to six months or longer before significant function is restored.

Why UC Health

Experience and Expertise

Multidisciplinary Team

Our team of physicians includes specialists in neurotology, facial plastics, neurology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, occupational and physical therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation and psychology. We are dedicated to delivering only the best care.

Personalized Care

Our patients receive a thorough evaluation before determining the best method of facial reanimation therapy. Whether through physical therapy, medical therapy or surgery, we work to ensure all of the possible benefits of this life-changing procedure.

Top Cincinnati Providers

Our physicians are routinely named as Top Doctors and Best Doctors by Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and Best Doctors of America.

We Are Experienced

We see approximately 600 facial paralysis patients per year.

Top in the Nation

We consistently rank in the top 1% nationally for patient experience by Press Ganey.


Our leading-edge facial paralysis treatments are only available among top institutions nationwide.

Partner with Us

Referring Physicians: Success and Provider Toolbox

We are committed to providing optimal care to your patient and open communication with you. We understand that as a referring physician, you need to be kept informed on your patient’s progress. That’s why we set up a toolbox to share detailed information about your patient’s health with you.

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At UC Health, we lead the region in scientific discoveries and embrace a spirit of purpose – offering our patients and their families something beyond everyday healthcare. At UC Health, we offer hope.