ASMS Members Corner
ASMS: The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons
ASMS: The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons

Leaders in the Education, Art, and
Science of Facial Reconstruction

Craniofacial Trauma

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Craniofacial trauma can happen to anyone: falls, car crashes, and assaults can break the bones of the face and damage to soft tissue. Craniofacial trauma accounts for over three million Emergency Department visits, and is one of the top ten reasons for Emergency Department visits in children. The most common broken bones of the face are the mandible, the nose, and the zygoma.

Injury to the bones or soft tissues of the face can cause both functional problems and aesthetic changes. A broken nose, for example, can lead to difficulty breathing, and shifts of the bones can lead to a crooked-appearing nose. A broken mandible can change the way your teeth come together (your occlusion,) which can lead to cavities and tooth breakage in the long term.

Often, when bones are broken in the face, the soft tissues are also damaged, sometimes in subtle ways. Lacerations to the face can lead to cut nerves, which can decrease your ability to move the muscles of your face. ASMS surgeons are trained to evaluate for these subtleties.

ASMS surgeons also use a variety of approaches when bones need to be fixed surgically to minimize scarring. In some cases, broken bones of the face can be fixed without a single incision on the face! Sometimes it is best to have surgery right away, sometimes it is best to wait a week or two, and sometimes it is best not to have surgery at all. ASMS surgeons have experience with facial trauma, so they can explain which approach is best for you.

Your surgeon may include other specialists in the treatment plan, including ophthalmologists, dentists, and orthodontists. Close collaborations with other specialties, when needed, helps to ensure the best possible outcomes.

When you or someone close to you has had a serious injury to the face, there are many things to consider. Your ASMS surgeon will help guide you through the process.

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