Q: Dr. Eppley, Ten years ago I had a cheek reduction done in South Korea. Beginning 2 years ago long after the operation, I developed right ear pain and a numbing sensation which often persists all day, a kind of burning, tingling towards the end of the right outer ear canal. It is not a spontaneous, penetrating stabbing pain attack, such as trigeminal neuralgia, but a duration of pain. This pain is very unpleasant.
I really hope to gain a better understanding of the cause of the pain. What I cannot understand at all is why the pain did not occur immediately, but so many years later.I guess that the hardware (screws and plates) is responsible for the pain. That’s why I had two operations to remove them. Unfortunately, they could not completely remove it.
Since I have heard a lot of positive things about you, I wanted to ask you if do you think that the pain is triggered by the hardware still present in the face and and whether it would be the best for me to remove the remaining screws and plates.
I can send you also some current radiographs. I would greatly appreciate it if you kindly give me a short reply on this.
A: As you know, it would be very unusual to develop these symptoms in such a delayed fashion from cheek reduction surgery. That alone suggests it may have nothing to do with the surgery at all. Indwelling hardware is not known to produce such symptoms although they remain an understandable target since they are in proximity to the symptomatic site and can be identified radiographically. I would need to see the radiograph you have to make any further comment.
Dr. Barry Eppley