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Cosmetic appreciation of lateralization of peripheral facial palsy: 'preference for left or right, true or mirror image?'.

  • Pouwels, Sjaak
  • Ingels, Koen
  • van Heerbeek, Niels
  • Beurskens, Carien
Published Article
European archives of oto-rhino-laryngology : official journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS) : affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2014
DOI: 10.1007/s00405-013-2790-8
PMID: 24173239


There have been several studies in the past depicting asymmetry in 'normal' human faces. Evidence supports the fact that the right hemisphere is superior in the recognition of emotions expressed by the human face and indicates a right hemispheric specialization for processing emotional information. The primary aim of this study is to determine whether there is a difference in cosmetic appreciation of a left peripheral facial palsy compared to a right peripheral facial palsy? Pictures of patients with a facial palsy with House-Brackmann II-VI were reversed as a mirror image and offered as a pair of pictures, together with the true image. Forty-two patients and 24 medical professionals familiar with facial palsy were asked to choose the most attractive photograph. The primary 'end' point was the most attractive side in the pictures chosen by medical professionals and patients. The secondary 'end' points consisted of the preferences for the mirror or true image, and influences of the House-Brackmann score and age. Medical professionals preferred the photographs from patients with a right and left peripheral facial palsy (PFP) in, respectively, a mean of 44 % (41-48 %) and 56 % (52-59 %) of the pictures (p = 0.02). When comparing mirror and true image, patients with a left-sided facial palsy chose their mirror and true image as most attractive in 90 and 10 %, respectively (p < 0.05). Patients with a right-sided facial palsy chose their mirror and true image in 30 and 70 %, respectively (p > 0.05). Subanalysis of patients with a PFP House-Brackmann score V and VI showed that medical professionals did not have a significant preference for a left nor right-sided facial palsy. Patients with a left-sided facial palsy chose their mirror image in all cases and patients with a right-sided palsy chose their mirror and true image in resp. 33 and 67 %. The House-Brackmann score (p = 0.52) and age (p = 0.73) of the patients did not influence preferences. This study, demonstrating that medical professionals find a right-sided facial palsy cosmetically less attractive than a left-sided, has clinical relevance. Patients, especially with a left-sided facial palsy, tend to choose for their mirror image, although this choice seems to be influenced by hemispheric specialization and familiarity.

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