Facial, trauma may be caused by a variety of reasons and can involve soft tissue, bone or both.
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The type of facial trauma surgery needed depends on the cause and type of injury. When soft tissue trauma has occurred, such as from lacerations or knife wounds to the face or mouth, it is repaired by suturing. This will take place either under local or general anaesthetic depending on their severity. The surgical procedure for treating trauma to facial bones depends on the location and severity of the fracture(s) along with the age and health of the patient. As a cast cannot be applied to facial fractures as with a broken arm or leg, other methods of stabilisation have to be employed.
Most initial consultations for facial trauma surgery will have taken place in a Trauma Unit or Accident and Emergency Department. Both at this point and for later restorative surgery, the status of your facial structure -- including the facial nerves, salivary glands, salivary ducts and eye tissue -- will be carefully assessed for function and appearance. Hospitals specialising in facial trauma surgery may also use 3D diagnostic technology to help assess your injuries and plan immediate and future treatments. With the help of a virtual 3D image, surgeons can identify the exact extent of injuries and thus plan accurate reconstruction.
Treatment for minor facial lacerations may be carried out under local anaesthesia. But most facial trauma surgery such as for fractured bones is carried out under general anaesthesia.
If a fracture of your upper or lower jaw has occurred, it will need to be stabilised. The most common way of doing this is by wiring the jaws together. Treating fractures of the cheekbones, eye-socket or forehead may simply involve ensuring the bones are correctly positioned and by keeping your head as immobile as possible while the bones knit together. If appropriate, small plates and screws may be used to fix fractured bones together. As your final facial appearance is important, fixing bones is carried out with a minimal amount of incisions. Where possible, incisions are made in places where scarring will not be visible.
A newer method of surgically treating fractured jaws is called 'rigid fixation'. This involves surgically inserting small plates and screws to fix your jaw bones in the required position. This method shortens your recovery period, allowing you to return to normal eating and drinking functions faster than when jaws are wired together. This has a massive psychological as well as physical impact.