Navigate Up

Full Library - A-Z Index


Print This Page

Facial trauma

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

Alternative Names

Maxillofacial injury; Midface trauma; Facial injury; LeFort injuries

Causes

Facial injuries can affect upper jaw, lower jaw, cheek, nose, or forehead. They may be caused by blunt force or be the result of a wound.

Common causes of injury to the face include:

  • Car and motorcycle crashes
  • Wounds
  • Sports injuries
  • Violence

Symptoms

  • Changes in 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

Exams and Tests

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

  • Bleeding from the nose, eyes, or mouth
  • 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
  • Changes in vision or the movement of the eyes

The following may suggest bone fractures:

  • Abnormal feelings on the cheek
  • Irregularities of the face that can be felt by touching
  • Movement of the upper jaw when the head is still

A CT scan of the head and bones of the face may be done.

Treatment

Surgery is done if the injury prevents normal functioning or causes a major deformity.

The goal of treatment is to:

  • Control bleeding
  • Create a clear airway
  • Treat the fracture and fix broken bone segments
  • Prevent scars if possible
  • Rule out other injuries

Treatment should be done as soon as possible if the person is stable and does not have a neck fracture.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most people do very well with proper treatment. More surgery may be needed in 6 - 12 months to correct changes in appearance.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

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

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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 while driving.

Use protective head gear when doing work or activities that could injure the face.

References

Mayersak RJ. Facial trauma. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 42.

Hill JD, Hamilton III GS. Facial trauma. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 22.

Updated: 8/12/2013

Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


©  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