Facial Trauma

Life can change in a blink of an eye. A car accident, a fall, a sports injury, an attack. Facial trauma can be one of the most harrowing experiences of a person’s life. Your face is everything to you. It’s the way you express yourself to the world. The good news is you don’t have to wear the scars of your trauma. Your facial plastic surgeon will be with you every step along your journey to bring back the former you.
Facial trauma spans a wide spectrum of injuries. Some accidents can result in a few minor cuts while others could involve large wounds and broken bones of the face. Regardless of the extent of injury, your facial plastic surgeon understands the distress you can feel from changes to your face and can help repair the damage.  The treatment of facial injuries is a process that involves initial repair, close follow-up, and the possibility of future revision. 

Initial Injury and Your First Experience with your Facial Plastic Surgeon

Often you will first meet your facial plastic surgeon at the time of your initial injury. We understand how overwhelming the traumatic experience can be and will do our best to make your treatment as seamless as possible. The repair of the initial injury depends on the type of trauma experienced. Sometimes this involves repairing cuts on the face with stitches; other times it may involve fixing broken bones of the face. The repair may take place in an office setting, in the hospital, or at times, in the operating room. The initial repair is always customized to each individual patient’s needs. The repair sets the foundation for the overall healing process and just as importantly establishes the partnership between you and your surgeon for the care moving forward.

What to Expect During Healing

Whether from trauma or surgery, anytime there is a wound on the body it goes through a complex healing process. This process may take at least a full year to complete. You will notice a series of changes that occurs with your wounds over time, and these changes are all part of the natural evolution of healing. Your facial plastic surgeon will explain the healing process in greater detail, but briefly it involves initial sealing of the wound, repair of the underlying structural components, and remodeling of these components over time. Healing requires patience and persistence; all of the wound care and follow-up is an investment to achieve your best results possible. 

What to Expect After the Treatment

Once you have had your initial injury repaired, the true healing process can begin. You will follow closely with your surgeon during this period of time. Your facial plastic surgeon will monitor your healing progress while setting expectations and alleviating any concerns. Depending on the type of initial injury and the efficiency of healing you may require additional treatments or procedures to achieve optimal results. Treatments can be as simple as tiny injections into the maturing scar. Procedures are more involved and are aimed at improving the appearance of the evolving wound. Procedures may include blending the borders of the wound with the surrounding, healthy skin or using laser or light therapy to improve wound color, texture, and appearance.

In some circumstances, despite vigilance and care, the wound will leave an unacceptable scar. In the event this occurs, scar revision may be offered to create an improved outcome. Scar revision involves excising the old scar and repairing the area with specialized stitching techniques to create the least noticeable scar. Scar revision can produce dramatic improvements in a scar but do require additional healing. Your facial plastic surgeon can discuss all of your options and together you can create a plan tailored to your goals.

An incident which results in facial trauma can be difficult both physically and emotionally. Your facial plastic surgeon will be at your side throughout this journey including during the initial repair, the healing process, and with any scar revision as necessary. The treatment for facial trauma is tailored to each patient’s individual needs and is aimed at restoring pre-traumatic function and appearance. You don’t have to wear the scars of your trauma; we are here for you.

Medical content written by the AAFPRS Multimedia Committee
Medical content reviewed/approved by Dr. Samuel M. Lam and Dr. Albert J. Fox