Facial nerve weakness or paralysis is a debilitating condition affecting many patients from a diverse range of conditions, both congenital and acquired, which affects a person’s ability to move their face. It can range from subtle weakness in eye closure or smiling, undesirable facial twitching or contractions, to a completely droopy face with functional difficulties such as slurred speech and poor ability to hold water in the mouth for drinking.
Depending on the cause and timeline of the nerve injury, there are various treatment options. In some instances, early intervention is necessary in order to try and salvage the function of residual facial muscles.
Dr Ngo treated patients with facial nerve injuries while working with Dr Stephen Morley at Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit in Glasgow Scotland and Dr Daniel Labbe in Caen, France. Dr Labbe pioneered the Lengthening Temporalis Myoplasty technique which utilises a chewing muscle in the face in order to generate ‘the smile’ in patients with facial palsy. This technique has the benefit of utilising a nearby muscle on the face, avoiding the need to do more complex microsurgical transfer of distant muscles. This specialised procedure is of shorter duration and carries a lower risk of muscle failure compared to the conventional transfer of muscle from distant sites using microsurgery.
Dr Ngo was one of the first surgeons to be part of the Sydney Facial Nerve Clinic (SFNC) at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Cancer Centre since its inception in 2015. SFNC is the only multidisciplinary Clinic in Australia formed solely for the purpose of bringing together multidisciplinary knowledge and research interests in treating facial nerve injury from different specialists and therapists. It treats patients with facial nerve palsy from all over Australia and has regular participation from internationally renowned specialists.
Dr Ngo regularly reviews patients with facial weakness at SFNC as well as in his own private practice. If necessary, Dr Ngo can would refer cases for discussion at a SFNC multidisciplinary meeting, to canvas opinions from a range of specialists and find the optimal treatment plan.