Navigate Up

Full Library - A-Z Index


Print This Page

Facial trauma

Facial trauma is any injury of the face and upper jaw bone (maxilla).

Alternative Names

Maxillofacial injury; Midface trauma; Facial injury; LeFort injuries

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Blunt or penetrating trauma can cause injury to the area of the face that includes the upper jaw, lower jaw, cheek, nose, or forehead. Common causes of injury to the face include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Penetrating injuries
  • Violence

Symptoms

  • Changes in sensation and feeling over the face
  • Deformed or uneven face or facial bones
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to swelling and bleeding
  • Double vision
  • Missing teeth
  • Swelling around the eyes that may cause vision problems

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam, which may show:

  • Bleeding from the nose, eyes, or mouth, or nasal blockage
  • Breaks in the skin (lacerations)
  • Bruising around the eyes or widening of the distance between the eyes, which may mean injury to the bones between the eye sockets

The following may suggest bone fractures:

  • Abnormal sensations on the cheek and irregularities that can be felt
  • An upper jaw that moves when the head is still

A CT scan of the head may be done.

Treatment

Patients who cannot function normally or who have significant deformity will need surgery.

The goal of treatment is to:

  • Control bleeding
  • Create a clear airway
  • Fix broken bone segments with titanium plates and screws
  • Leave the fewest scars possible
  • Rule out other injuries
  • Treat the fracture

Treatment should be immediate, as long as the person is stable and there are no neck fractures or life-threatening injuries.

Expectations (prognosis)

Patients generally do very well with proper treatment. You will probably look different than you did before your injury. You may need to have more surgery 6 - 12 months later.

Complications

General complications include, but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding
  • Uneven face
  • Infection
  • Brain and nervous system problems
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Loss of vision or double vision

Calling your health care provider

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a severe injury to your face.

Prevention

Wear seat belts and use protective head gear when appropriate. Avoid violent confrontations with other people.

Updated: 8/3/2011

Alan Lipkin, MD, Otolaryngologist, private practice, Denver, CO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com