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Botox an Effective Treatment for Facial Nerve Problems, Loyola Physician Says

MAYWOOD, Ill.  –  Botox is best known as a cosmetic treatment for frown lines, but the drug also effectively treats the aftereffects of Bell’s palsy and other serious facial nerve problems.

Bell’s palsy results from damage to the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face. Dr. Matthew Kircher, an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon at 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 – vertical lines that develop in the neck as a result of muscle contractions.

Kircher said he starts out conservatively by treating patients with diluted doses. After seeing how well the patient does, Kircher will adjust the dose if necessary.
Botox is not a cure. The drug wears off after three or four months, so patients need repeat injections.

“While we can never make the face perfect, we have found Botox to be extremely effective,” Kircher said. “It can make a huge difference in patients’ lives."

Kircher is an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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