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Abnormal Facial Movements

Abnormal facial movements describe conditions involving spasms, twitches or tics of the muscles around the eyes or face. Involuntary contraction of both eyelids is called blepharospasm. Involuntary contractions affecting the other muscles of the face as well as the eyelid muscle is called hemifacial spasm or Meige syndrome, depending on whether one or both sides of the face are affected.

Blepharospasm is thought to be caused by altered activity in part of the brain called the basal ganglia, while hemifacial spasm may result from a blood vessel or another structure in the brain pressing on the facial nerve (the nerve allowing for facial muscle movement).

People with blepharospasm describe having trouble keeping their eyes open. Affected individuals may also note excessive uncontrolled blinking. Similarly, patients with hemifacial spasm notice one sided tics involving the cheek or corner of the mouth.

Treatment of abnormal facial movements may involve medical therapies and/or botulinum toxin (BOTOX®) injections. Rarely, eyelid surgery or neurosurgery will be needed to reduce the spasms.

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