The Face

What does facial palsy mean?

Facial Palsy is a general medical term which means weakness of the facial muscles, usually on one side of the face, as a result of damage to the facial nerve caused by swelling or pressure on the nerve.

How does the facial nerve work?

There is a facial nerve on each side of the face. If you damage it on the left side it will affect the left side of the face and if damaged on the right it will affect the right side of your face.  Each nerve leaves the brain through a tiny channel in the skull and enters the face in front of the ear. It then divides into 5 branches to supply the different muscles for facial expression.

The facial nerve is also responsible for the production of tears, saliva and taste for part of the tongue.

The diagram shows the five branches coming out in front of the ear and going to the muscles in the forehead, eye and cheek, lips, chin and neck. These branches are responsible for facial movement.

What movements do the facial muscles make?

The main movements that the facial muscles perform are as follows:-

  • Raising the eyebrows (frontalis)
  • Wrinkling nose (procerus/nasalis)
  • Pouting (orbicularis oris)
  • Lifting top lip (levator labii)
  • Open and closed mouth smiling (zygomaticus and risorius)
  • Closing the eye (orbicularis oculi)
  • Frowning (corrugator)
  • Pulling lower lip down (depressor labii)
  • Sticking bottom lip out (mentalis)
  • Pulling jaw and corners of mouth down gently (platysma)