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Facial Injury

Facial injuries include injuries involving the mouth, face and jaw. These range from facial cuts and lacerations to more serious problems, such as broken teeth and facial bones.

Bone fractures can involve the lower or upper jaw, palate, cheekbones and eye sockets. These injuries often occur during automobile accidents, sports or recreational activities, fights or assaults, work-related tasks, projects around the house or accidental falls.

Many patients with facial injuries are first seen in the emergency room and then referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a plastic surgeon for further treatment.

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty breathing, seeing, talking or swallowing
  • Facial swelling or misshapen face
  • Cut or puncture wound on your face
  • Facial pain
  • Bruising or discoloration behind your ears, eyes or under your tongue
  • Widening of the distance between your eyes, which may indicate injury to your eye sockets
  • Facial numbness or tingling
  • Skin infections or rashes

When making a diagnosis, your doctor will begin by asking about your medical history, including any events that may have caused your facial injury. A thorough physical and medical examination will also be conducted, to note any injuries to your face and other parts of your body. Many people with facial injuries also suffer from additional medical problems.

A computed tomography (CT) scan of the head also may be performed to make a definite diagnosis.

Treatment for facial injuries varies, depending on the location and severity of your injury. Patients with facial injuries may additional medical problems. Your doctor will coordinate the care of these medical conditions with the necessary specialists.

If you have broken bones in your face, the bones must be lined up and held in place long enough to heal properly. Depending on the severity of the injury and your age, this may take six or more weeks.

Repositioning and holding your broken bones in place may be achieved by a variety of techniques. For extensive facial injuries, incisions to expose the bones and then a combination of wiring and plating techniques may be used. Fractures of the upper and lower jaw may require metal braces that are fastened to your teeth with rubber bands or wires to hold your jaws together.

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Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center

Oral and Facial Surgery Center
707 Parnassus Ave., Suite D-1201
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 476-1316
Fax: (415) 476-8999
Appointment information

Otolaryngology

Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
2330 Post St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 353-9500
Fax: (415) 885-7800
Appointment information

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Non-Cosmetic)
400 Parnassus Ave., Suite A-655
San Francisco, CA 94143-0932
Phone: (415) 353-4201
Fax: (415) 353-4330
Appointment information