Facial Trauma Surgery
Facial trauma may be caused by a variety of reasons and can involve soft tissue, bone or both.
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Facial Trauma Surgery Quick Details
WHO IS THIS FOR
Patients with facial lacerations.
Patients with fractured facial bones including the cheek, nose or eye socket.
Patients with fractured upper and/or lower jaws.
Patients with visible dental trauma or intra-oral lacerations.
Because of the wide range of injuries and surgery types involved, it is not possible to generalise about treatment duration. The suturing of facial lacerations might take a couple of hours, while fixing fractured jaws or dealing with delicate fractures of the eye socket might involve considerably longer surgery times.
Depending on the nature of the injury, the recovery time from facial trauma surgery may be just a couple of weeks if a few lacerations are involved or up to a year or more if multiple fractures have occurred.
The bruising and swelling caused by facial fractures and the resultant surgery should begin to settle down within two to four weeks, while any accompanying nerve damage may take longer to resolve.
The success of facial trauma surgery is judged both on function and appearance. Immediately after surgery, there will be some pain, bruising and swelling, but over a period of weeks or months, depending on the severity of the trauma and its treatment, appearance and function should be as near normal as possible.
Scarring may take up to a year to settle down and in some cases, further plastic surgery may be necessary. For severe facial trauma such as that which may occur after a major car accident, further reparative surgery may also be required.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
While facial trauma in itself is not usually life-threatening, it can become so if the airway becomes blocked by a dislodged bone or excess swelling.
Damage to the eye socket can cause long-term vision problems or even blindness.
Deep lacerations or the movement of fractured bones may cause nerve problems. These may be temporary or permanent.
What Is the Surgical Procedure for Facial Trauma?
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.
How Does the Surgical Procedure for Facial Trauma Work?
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.
What Happens During Facial Trauma Surgery?
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.
Are There Different Types of Surgical Procedures for Facial Trauma?
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.