OHSU

Treating Facial Pain with Surgery

If medication does not help your facial pain, or if you have unwanted medication side effects, your doctor might discuss surgical options with you. Dr. Kim Burchiel is an expert at surgery for facial pain.

The goal of surgery is to decrease your facial pain without causing new symptoms or making the symptoms you have worse. To reach that goal, your OHSU Facial Pain Program team will consider:

  • Your age
  • Your general health and type of facial pain
  • Your symptoms
  • The main cause of your pain
  • Your doctor's experience
  • Your preference

Before you have surgery

To prepare for surgery, your OHSU Facial Pain Program team gets a detailed description of your medical symptoms and medical history. Then we make an accurate diagnosis by characterizing your facial pain. See facial pain classification scheme 

Next, your doctor determines the primary cause or origin of your facial pain. You then begin initial treatments followed by medical treatment. If your medical treatment is not working, your doctor will discuss surgical options that might work for you.

If you decide to have surgery, the type of procedure recommended is based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Primary underlying cause or origin of facial pain
  • Neurosurgeon's experience
  • Preference
  • Initial treatment

Types of facial pain surgery

Several facial pain procedures are available. Some are done on an outpatient basis (no overnight hospital stay). Others are more complex and require a hospital stay.

Procedures include nerve blocks, injections, surgery through the cheek, surgery through the head and radiation treatments.

Each procedure has certain advantages and disadvantages. Factors that play a part in your doctor's decision include:

  • How difficult the procedure is
  • How well your doctor expects the procedure to work
  • Long-term results
  • Whether your doctor expects the facial pain to recur (come back)
  • Possible side effects or problems from the procedure (complications)

No facial pain surgery is successful every time. All types of facial pain surgery have complications (can cause side effects or problems). The OHSU Facial Pain Program has leading experts on treating facial pain. Talk with us about your treatment options.