Facial trauma, also called maxillofacial trauma, is any physical trauma to the face. Facial trauma can involve soft tissue injuries such as burns, lacerations and bruises, or fractures of the facial bones such as nasal fractures and fractures of the jaw, as well as trauma such as eye injuries. Injury mechanisms such as falls, assaults, sports injuries, and vehicle crashes are common causes of facial trauma in children as well as adults. Surgical specialists who commonly treat specific aspects of facial trauma include plastic surgeons, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
One of the most common types of serious injury to the face occurs when bones are broken. Fractures can involve the lower jaw, upper jaw, palate, cheekbones, eye sockets and combinations of these bones. These injuries can affect sight and the ability to breathe, speak and swallow. Treatment often requires hospitalization.
The principles for treating facial fractures are the same as for a broken arm or leg. The parts of the bone must be lined up (reduced) and held in position long enough to permit them time to heal. This may require six or more weeks depending on the patient's age and the fracture's complexity.
The key to treatment of panfacial fractures is establishing fixation of stable regions to unstable regions. Craniofacial surgery is an important part of all plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery training programs.