Your face is the first part of your body anyone will see. It’s also one of the most delicate, and easily susceptible to scarring and permanent complications. For those two reasons, it’s imperative that any injury to the face be given the utmost care by a specialist. According to an article published in the Archives of Plastic Surgery, “facial laceration is the most common injury encountered in the emergency room in the plastic surgery field,” typically due to the fact that a plastic surgeon has specialized training in minimizing scarring and repairing complex wounds.
A facial laceration is a cut or tear in the skin, specifically on the face, caused by a fall, motor vehicle or sporting accident, an animal or human bite, or being struck by a blunt or penetrating object. Sometimes, these can be minor, requiring simple at-home care. In these instances, you’ll want to apply pressure with a clean cloth to stop blood flow, clean the wound with cool water, apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage. However, there are rare instances when the injury can be more extensive. If there is severe bleeding that hasn’t stopped after 10 minutes, the cut appears deep, or it’s near a sensitive area such as the eyes, nose, or mouth, you may want to visit a medical professional.
Although some injuries may require a visit to the emergency room, it may be best to call your plastic surgeon on your way there. While the hospital is bustling with capable hands, emergency rooms are typically so busy and crowded that physicians pass suturing off to nurse practitioners and physician assistants while they address higher medical priorities such as strokes. Calling a plastic surgeon along the way will ensure you get the attention your wound deserves.
To begin, a plastic surgeon will evaluate the wound, determine the type of laceration—whether it be a V-shaped flap, jagged, missing skin, or a burst—and whether it has impacted muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, or bones. If located on the chin, a surgeon must check if it’s associated with jaw and dental fractures. Facial lacerations typically have a higher chance of infection. A surgeon takes each of these into consideration when determining the next course of action.
Then, they’ll inquire about the cause of the injury and get a full medical history. The surgeon will control any bleeding and clean out the wound, carefully exploring the laceration to determine its true severity. Depending on the patient’s needs, the surgeon may administer local anesthesia before performing any repairs.
“The goals of laceration repair are to achieve hemostasis, avoid infection, restore function to the involved tissues, and achieve optimal cosmetic results with minimal scarring,” states an article published in American Family Physician. “Definitive laceration management depends on the time since injury, the extent and location of the wound, available laceration repair materials, and the skill of the physician.”
The closure method is based on the type and depth of the wound. Sutures are generally used for those that require “extensive debridement or multi-layer closure,” continues the aforementioned piece. Staples and sutures are also used in areas of high skin tension. Tissue adhesives can close lacerations on areas with low skin tension.
Once the laceration is closed, your surgeon will supply instructions on how to care for the area during the following days. Depending on the severity or type of closure, you may have to attend a follow-up appointment to remove the sutures.
Dr. Anthony Buglino of Woodbury, Long Island’s Buglino Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery can perform facial laceration repairs on both adults and children. When a facial laceration occurs, call his office at (516) 864-0700. He’ll ask that you meet him at his office, or he’ll suggest he meet you at the hospital. Dr. Buglino can fast-track the emergency room process, cutting down your wait time and getting you healed quicker. For more information about Dr. Buglino’s laceration repair division, check out BooBoosRX.