Hemifacial Spasm

A hemifacial spasm is a series of facial twitches. The twitches start around your eye and move down to your mouth. They usually affect one side, though they can involve both. The most common cause is a blood vessel pressing on a nerve as it leaves the brain stem. Hemifacial spasms don’t hurt, but they can be bothersome and even embarrassing.

Overview

Symptoms

Hemifacial spasm symptoms usually include:

  • Eye tics or twitching 
  • Twitching mouth muscles, which may pull your mouth to one side
  • Spasms on both sides of the face

Diagnosis

Your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. Then he or she will work with you to create a treatment plan to fit your needs.

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Treatment Options

Your hemifacial spasm treatment might include microvascular decompression surgery (MVD), in which surgeons operate behind your ear to reach the affected nerve. The offending blood vessel is gently lifted off the nerve and the nerve is protected with tiny felt pieces. Surgeons use special electrical monitoring equipment during the surgery to make sure the spasms stop. Most people feel immediate relief after MVD and may leave the hospital a few days after surgery.

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