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Parry Romberg syndrome is a rare medical disorder that involves a progressive deterioration, known as atrophy, of the skin on the face as well as the facial muscles, which lie directly underneath the skin. This condition usually affects only one side of the face. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure or treatment method that can slow the progression of the disorder. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and often include facial pain, seizure disorders, and visible facial deformities. Some individual symptoms may be moderately controlled by the use of prescription medications, and reconstructive surgery is not uncommon.
The progression of Parry Romberg syndrome is typically very slow and is most likely to first show up in children who are between the ages of 5 and 15. In some cases, the disorder develops in adults who have had no previous symptoms. Although the reason is not clearly understood, this condition seems to affect females more often than males, and the left side of the face is affected more often than the right.
Changes to the structure of the face are most likely to be noticed first just above the upper jaw, between the nose and the upper corner of the lip on the affected side of the face. The deterioration may then spread throughout the entire side of the face, often affecting the tongue and gums as well. The cheek and eye may begin to look sunken in, and facial hair may turn white or even fall out.
Changes to the coloring of the skin are common among those with Parry Romberg syndrome. Sometimes darkened areas of skin, known as hyper-pigmentation, may appear. In other cases, some parts of the skin may lose pigment, a symptom known as vitiligo. A condition known as trigeminal neuralgia often develops, causing periodic bouts of extreme facial pain. Bone loss and vision changes are also possible as the condition progresses.
Parry Romberg syndrome has a tendency to stop progressing after a few years. Until this occurs, most doctors will treat individual symptoms, such as facial pain, as much as possible. Once the disease has stopped progressing and the structures of the face have stopped growing and developing, facial reconstructive surgery may be considered, especially in the more severe instances. Any questions or concerns about the progression or treatment of the disorder should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
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