ANA Discussion Forum

Post-Treatment => Facial Issues => Topic started by: Tod on January 05, 2018, 06:26:34 pm

Title: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: Tod on January 05, 2018, 06:26:34 pm
Apparently, there is no reason NOT to try physical therapy, regardless of how long it has been.

Last spring I was experiencing popping of the jaw. It was unpleasant and painful. I scheduled an appointment with oral/facial surgeon, but couldn't get in for some months. Shortly after getting scheduled, I injured an ankle badly and spent three months on heavy anti-inflammatories and the popping went away. I kept the appointment though.

The surgeon confirmed what I had known - the left cheek (the affected side) muscles were very thick, and also very stiff. This was pulling my jaw out of alignment. My jaw was also generally stiff. So after talking through possibilities and options, we decided on anti-inflammatory that is gentler on the stomach then the diclofenac I had been taking for my ankle and physical therapy. He had one in mind that was local and good with facial issues.

She was wonderful.

Not only did she tackle the jaw alignment and range of motion, she worked with me on trying to reactivate the dormant facial muscles and synkenesis.

It worked. Surprisingly enough, in less than eight weeks I had noticeable improvement in function and symmetry. The spasms are reduced and I can do things with my face I couldn't do before. It also seems that is continuing to improve, albeit slowly.

The thing is, I had given up long ago, accepting my asymmetry, synkenesis, and a left eye that blinked if smiled, chewed, or did just about anything. I was alive, my voice was back (and it also continues to improve), and life was good. I even did a blog post ( ( about the asymmetry and my acceptance of it.

The exercises are hard and frustrating. Trying to move just one or two muscles I find incredibly difficult. Doing so and trying to open my wider (or just keep it open) is harder still. It's worth the effort though...I can see the difference, even if no one else notices it.

Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: alabamajane on January 05, 2018, 06:52:00 pm
Wow,, congrats Tod!! GREAT news and especially after all you have been through these past years!

I don’t remember anyone else ever posting about such results so far out from therapy,,, but good for you and thanks for letting us know there is hope,, albeit with hard work,, for thoof us affected.

Continued positive results!! Looks like you are truly headed to a Happy New Year  :D

Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: Tod on January 05, 2018, 07:12:51 pm
Thanks, Jane! It has been quite an amazing year, for a whole host of reasons. Life is good.

Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: Jill Marie on January 05, 2018, 09:19:04 pm
Congratulations Tod!  So glad to hear that you found a wonderful person to help you reactivate the dormant facial muscles and synkenesis.  It must of been a very pleasant surprise to see that things could change for the better after all this time.  I'm glad you pursued this so that it helped you and encouraged others not to give up.  I've become complacent so I think there's nothing that will improve/change now.  I have thought about looking into things that might help me smile again or help me not to have to use eye ointment everyday but don't bother because I figure it's a waste of time.  I'm retiring in a year so I will start looking into what's out there to help then.  When I start my search I will remember your success which will keep me going when it seems like I'm wasting my time. 

I hope you continue to see improvements via your hard work!  Happy New Year!  Jill  8)
Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: Tod on January 05, 2018, 11:04:38 pm
Thanks Jill! Whatever you do, don't give up on your own journey. I'm a week short of 56 and life is just about as good as it can be. I made a number of decisions 13 months ago which have led to almost 90lbs of weightloss so far and wholly improved attitude on life.

And about smiles: My smile is definitely better now. In fact, I LIKE to smile. I never did before, not even prior to surgery. Now it makes me happy. But there's this. Most everyone is asymmetrical in one way or another. Those that aren't are the ones in the movies and on TV most often.

Two women I work with have VERY asymmetric smiles. One is mid-40s and a doctor noticed a few years ago an ran a series of tests and found nothing. She's simply asymmetric with a smile that goes way upward to the left. Same is true for 27 yo woman on my team whose asymmetry is that the corner of her mouth goes almost an inch further on the right side than the left. Another friend, who i did a portrait of ( (, is asymmetrical in so many ways it's amazing, almost. What they all have in common, they are all lovely uniquely who they are.

Fact is, we are all different, and asymmetry is natural. Embracing our asymmetry is a good thing. Working to improve facial movement and symmetry is also functionally good.

Happy New Year to you!

Title: Re: Facial Therapy
Post by: JLR on June 09, 2018, 03:40:09 am
Hello It's been 18 months since my AN surgery. I do have synkensis. I'm now seeing a facial therapist. Does anyone know the type of exercises that are doing. . I've got a bunch and it's a very very slow process.  Seems to be slightly improved.  I know it's the miswiring of nerves but why did this happen.  It's become so frustrating. Is it because there is a 5% tumor left on facial nerve?  Dr said Oh this sometimes occurs your doing great and you can thru surgery fine! But I spent 4 weeks in a rehab hospital then about 2 weeks in sub acute then months of out patient therapy. I now can drive but dr said no driving for 2 weeks ha it was over a year. Just venting. Have a great weekend. JLR
Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: Tod on June 11, 2018, 01:15:10 pm
JLR, I'm sorry that you are so frustrated. This can be very difficult and frustrating. I can't answer why it happened to you, only that  this is all so much more complex than we tend to credit. The normal workings of the face are surprisingly complex.

As for exercises, those that I practiced and still practice involved learning to focus on using just one or two muscles on the affected side of my face to complete a certain action. For example, sneering. I can't hardly sneer on my left side - I end up with just a slanty-face. With great deal of effort I can sometimes get a bit of the top lip to arch upward into near sneer. Another is working on getting my lower lip to come down and expose my teeth when smiling, only I don't recall if that was ever really the case.

I hope this is helpful,

Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: JLR on June 12, 2018, 05:44:35 am
Hi Tod, Thanks for your very thoughtful response.  So glad your doing so well. Let's stay in touch.  Regards. 
Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: Tod on June 12, 2018, 07:46:34 am
You're quite welcome.  Please reach out any time.

Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: wfuvbeanhead on January 09, 2019, 11:19:54 am
Hi Tod,

Nice to read about your experience. I am 6 years out and like you, I've just accepted my appearance. I recently saw a video of me speaking which brought me out of my denial and I have a renewed interest in trying to address my condition. I am in NYC metro area. wondering where you are or if you had recommendations for who to see first- surgeon, physical therapist, etc.
Thanks in advance for any information.

Title: Re: Facial Therapy almost 8 years post-op
Post by: Tod on January 11, 2019, 07:12:52 pm
I'm in the Richmond, Virginia area. I just stumbled on to Lorri because of jaw issues. I would simply talk to folks at some of the physical therapy centers and see if they have anyone that specializes in facial issues.