Tiffany Chen, De Niro's partner, reveals Bell's palsy struggle
Tiffany Chen, the partner of renowned actor Robert De Niro, has revealed her personal health struggle following the birth of their daughter, Gia Virginia Chen De Niro, in April.
In an exclusive interview with "CBS Mornings," Chen opened up about her struggle with Bell's palsy, a temporary condition that affects the facial muscles, often causing one side of the face to droop or become paralyzed. In Chen's case, it affected both sides of her face. It is believed to be triggered by inflammation and swelling of the facial nerve. While the exact cause is unknown, it is thought to be associated with viral infections.
Bell's palsy affects about 40,000 people in the U.S. each year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. While anyone of any gender or age can experience Bell's palsy, it appears to be highest in those between the ages of 15 and 45 years old. Risk factors include: pregnancy, preeclampsia, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and upper respiratory ailments.
Chen described the initial symptoms she experienced upon returning home after giving birth. She noticed an unusual sensation in her tongue, which gradually became tingling and numb.
"Then I realized, like my face just felt weird. I didn't know what the feeling was that I was having. It felt weird," she said.
As the days passed, Chen's symptoms worsened, leading to a collapse and deterioration in her face. She described the sensation as her face "melting on itself." About a week after giving birth, the situation became unbearable, to the point she was unable to consume food.
"I was trying to eat. I went to put just a fork of food in my mouth, and everything came out. I couldn't eat. And then I was starting to slur," Chen recalled.
Recognizing the gravity of her condition, Chen contacted her doctor, who advised her to go directly to the hospital.
"I lost all facial function the minute I got into the hospital," she revealed.
More of Gayle King's interview with Tiffany Chen where she will discuss the impact of tabloid headlines on her facial expressions and how Robert De Niro has provided support throughout her health journey will air on "CBS Mornings" Friday, July 14.