Read this if you do not want to look like the Mona Lisa

For 1 billion rand (R1 000 000 000) you could, if theoretically possible, buy the Mona Lisa. Undoubtedly one of the finest pieces of art ever created. Leonardo da Vinci took 4 years to complete this painting.

Bells palsy and Mona Lisa
Did Mona Lisa suffer from Bells palsy?

It is well known how accurate Leonardo da Vinci depicted anatomy, as can clearly be seen in his anatomical sketches of parts of the human body. Therefore it can be accepted that the anatomic representation of the Mona Lisa’s face is accurate, down to the finest detail.

The Mona Lisa has led to much debate. Some scientists believe that Mona Lisa suffered from Bells palsy. This has been discussed and explained in numerous articles. It is believed that if looked at in detail and compared to right side, the left corner of the mouth is slightly elevated and the left eye slightly narrowed. This asymmetry is believed to be the result of Bell’s palsy.

If indeed the Mona Lisa suffered Bells palsy it places her in the unfortunate 30 per 100,000 of the population who suffers this fate every year. If she was pregnant during the 4 years Leonardo da Vinci painted her it would have increased her risk by 3.3 times.

Be it as it may, Bells palsy may lead to permanent disfigurement and therefore should be treated as an emergency. In the case of the Mona Lisa the disfigurement would have been more pronounced when movement of the face would have been observed. If the facial nerve degenerate recovery may be incomplete. This will then present with asymmetry of the face (a skew face), contractures, mass movement and synkines (involuntary simultaneous movement of two different muscle groups).

In selected cases and if seen early, surgical decompression of the facial nerve may reduce the risk for permanent disfigurement. In other cases Mime therapy and botulinum toxin injection may improve the symmetry of the face and reduce abnormal movement.

Mona Lisa syndrome:  a case report.