Facial paralysis represents the end result of a wide array of disorders and heterogeneous etiologies, including congenital, traumatic, infectious, neoplastic, and metabolic causes. Thus, facial palsy has a diverse range of presentations, from transient unilateral paresis to devastating permanent bilateral paralysis. Although not life-threatening, facial paralysis remains relatively common and can have truly severe effects on one's quality of life, with important ramifications in terms of psychological impact and physiologic burden. Prognosis and outcomes for patients with facial paralysis are highly dependent on the etiologic nature of the weakness as well as the treatment offered to the patient. Facial plastic surgeons are often asked to manage the sequelae of long-standing facial paralysis. It is important, however, for any practitioner who assists this population to have a sophisticated understanding of the common etiologies and initial management of facial paralysis. This article reviews the more common causes of facial paralysis and discusses relevant early treatment strategies.
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