Question: How likely is it for a facelift to cause nerve damage? What would this do to the face esthetically?
Answer: If you read the scientific literature nerve damage from a facelift can be as high as about 5% or 1 in 20 facelifts. The far majority of these will be temporary injuries called a neurapraxia which will spontaneously resolve within the first year of surgery, most of them within the first 6 weeks. I certainly have seen patients present to my office having had a previous facelift with permanent nerve damage but this fortunately is extremely unusual. The nerve damage causes the inability to move a certain portion of their face, usually just on one side so that they end up having a little bit of a crooked smile or occasionally when they smile they will partially blink their eye on one side which is called synkinesis. Unfortunately these types of injuries are unable to be treated after the fact and once they are completely healed. Obviously the best option is to select a surgeon with extensive experience in facelifts so that you will minimize the risks of any sort of facial nerve injury. Obviously there is a risk with anything that we do in life and there is still an extremely small risk of nerve injury even in the most experienced hands but fortunately in those circumstances the risk is exceptionally low. I have personally seen a few patients have temporary weakness in portions of their face most likely due to cauterizing a small blood vessel near a nerve but fortunately I have never seen anyone with a permanent nerve injury due to any sort of esthetic procedure that I have performed.