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Facial trauma is an injury of the face and upper jaw bone (maxilla).
Maxillofacial injury; Midface trauma; Facial injury; LeFort injuries
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
- Sports injuries
- 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.
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.
Most people do very well with proper treatment. More surgery may be needed in 6 - 12 months to correct changes in appearance.
Complications may include:
- Uneven face
- 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.
Wear seat belts while driving.
Use protective head gear when doing work or activities that could injure the face.
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.
Reviewed By: 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.