The face or maxillofacial region is made up of the upper jaw, lower jaw, forehead, cheeks, eye socket, and nose. It has several bony structures and specialized tissues contributing to its function and aesthetic importance.
Unfortunately, the face is also vulnerable to several kinds of traumatic conditions, specifically soft tissue injuries. Research shows that soft tissue damage to the maxillofacial regions accounts for up to 10% of all emergency department visits.
Besides the ER medical team, one of the main physicians to handle such injuries is an experienced plastic surgeon.
Read on below to learn more about soft tissue trauma to the face and how plastic surgery plays a role in its treatment and management.
What are the types of facial soft tissue injuries?
Soft tissue damage to the face refers to injuries sustained in the maxillofacial region’s nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and sensory organs. Since it is an intricate area, damage to these structures can result in severe bleeding, swelling, and distortion of facial features. It can also cause temporary or permanent impairment of sensation and function.
There are various types of soft tissue injuries to the face, ranging from superficial wounds to deep cuts and injuries. Some examples include the following:
Abrasion or graze
refers to a superficial type of soft tissue injury that only damages the epidermal area or the skin’s surface. Generally, individuals sustain abrasions when the skin rubs against a hard or rough area, such as falling while skateboarding or riding a bike.
refers to injuries caused by sharp objects capable of breaking the skin and other deeper structures underneath. It usually results in open wounds, which can cause mild to severe bleeding, especially on well-vascularized areas, such as the scalp, nose, and tongue.
Facial lacerations may damage not only the blood vessels but also the nerves in the area. This can then impair crucial facial functions depending on location, such as one’s ability to blink, taste, chew, and speak.
is a life-threatening facial injury that can permanently deform and impair the function of facial organs. Some examples include loss of vision, breathing difficulties, eating problems, and respiratory fatigue.
Facial burns may be classified as superficial, deep partial thickness, and full thickness, depending on the depth of the injury. Some of its physical manifestations include redness, blanching, painful blisters, and edema.
soft tissue eye injuries may range from simple bruising and scratches to severe puncture wounds in the eyeball. Some specific examples include black eye, subconjunctival hemorrhage, corneal abrasion, burns, and retinal detachment.
Mild injuries may cause pain, redness, and swelling, while severe ones can result in bleeding and vision problems. Most eye injuries occur due to strain, workplace hazards, and sports and vehicular accidents.
Salivary gland damage
both major and minor salivary glands are found in the jaw, lips, cheeks, and mouth. The soft tissue structures most likely to get injuried are the parenchyma, ducts, nerves, and blood vessels in the area.
When damaged, it can result in facial deformation and salivary gland dysfunction, which can impair one’s ability to eat and speak.
besides the bony vault, the nose is made up of soft tissue structures (e.g., cartilages, fibrofatty tissues, nerves) vulnerable to traumatic injuries. It usually results in bleeding, open wound, and nasal structure deformation.
Most traumatic facial soft tissue injuries result from vehicular accidents, sports-related injuries, workplace hazards, animal bites, and violence.
What are its signs and symptoms?
Facial soft tissue trauma can cause various degrees and severities of symptoms. Its presentation typically depends on the following factors一cause of injury, type of wound, location, the extent of associated injuries, and patient health.
But in general, some of the most common signs and symptoms you can experience during a soft tissue injury to the face include the following:
- Varying degrees of pain or tenderness
- Bleeding in the affected area.
- Facial swelling
- An obvious open wound, such as an abrasion or laceration
- Bruising and discoloration
- Misshapen facial features or deformity
- Vision problems
- Difficulties in eating, swallowing, chewing, and breathing.
Severe facial injuries due to trauma can result in other complications, such as airway obstruction, internal bleeding, serious eye injuries, head trauma, and neurological damage.
What are the treatment options for facial soft tissue injury?
Minor cuts, abrasions, and wounds may be cleaned and treated at home. Such injuries can heal after 2 weeks and may not leave any marks after a month or two. However, patients with moderate to severe facial injuries may need stitches and emergency care services to stabilize their condition.
Generally, treatment options for maxillofacial soft tissue injury occur in two phases:
Stabilization and Early Management
The first phase of treatment for individuals sustaining a facial soft tissue injury due to traumatic causes happens in the ER department. Once brought in, they’ll be quickly yet thoroughly evaluated through medical history assessment and diagnostic procedures, such as a CT scan.
These procedures will allow physicians to determine the severity of the condition and immediate threats to the patient’s health. Then, emergency medical care may be performed to stabilize the condition of the patient, such as primary surgery or blood transfusion.
Reconstructive facial surgery
Once initial stabilization and injury management have been performed, the patient will be referred to a plastic surgeon for facial trauma reconstruction. The patient and the plastic surgeon should communicate and work together to achieve the best functional and aesthetic results.
Facial reconstruction after trauma involves the repair of damaged soft tissues for optimal appearance while prioritizing the functionality of the facial structures.
Many techniques are involved in facial surgery, such as microvascular reconstructive surgery and facial nerve surgery. But typically, doctors perform a combination of techniques to achieve the desired results.
Patients may also opt to undergo scar revision surgery months or years after their initial surgery to eliminate unpleasant facial scar tissue.
Where to find the best clinic for facial reconstruction surgery in Miami?
Facial reconstruction requires advanced specialization and in-depth knowledge of plastic surgery. If you want to achieve optimal functionality and aesthetic results, then the best course of action is to seek help from the specialists at the Plastic Surgery Institute of Miami.
Dr. Thomas J. Zaydon, our board-certified plastic surgeon, specializes in both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, specifically when it comes to facial trauma repair. He has been in the field for more than 20 years, treating injuries and helping patients achieve the best versions of themselves.
Dr. Zaydon is also a plastic surgery consultant with expertise in various practice areas of plastic surgery. This includes the following:
- Facial plastic surgery in Miami
- Plastic surgery for burns
- Plastic surgery for scars
- Plastic surgery for dog bites
- And more
Contact us now to learn more about our services!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.