The bones of your face can break, just like any other bone in your body. Facial fractures to the cheeks, eye sockets, jaws, or nose tend to happen with car accidents, falls, sports injuries, and personal assaults.
And while fractures can repair themselves without treatment, people often need assistance when it comes to healing. And, whether or not treatment is needed, it’s important to receive medical supervision during the recovery process.
Otolaryngologist Alexis Furze, MD, whose practice is in Newport Beach, California, is a board-certified specialist in reconstructive facial plastic surgery. As such, he’s the ideal medical partner if you suffer a fracture to the face. Dr. Furze can diagnose your condition and design a treatment plan to help you get well again.
Common types of facial fractures
The bones of your face are thin, making them more susceptible to fracture damage than many other bones in your body. The most common facial fractures include:
- Nasal (nose)
- Frontal (forehead)
- Orbital (eyes)
- Zygomatic (cheekbones)
- Maxillary/mandibular (jaws)
- Le Fort (mid-face)
There’s also a common fracture that affects a group of bones. It’s called a tripod facial fracture, and it affects the eye socket, cheekbone, and upper jaw.
Diagnosing a facial fracture
Most facial fractures are initially evaluated in the emergency room due to the nature of the injuries. The focus in these situations is to assure that your life and health are not in danger. If a facial fracture poses no threat to your health, the providers in an emergency room may focus on more potentially serious injuries, such as bleeding or internal organ damage.
It’s typical that patients visit Dr. Furze for specialist attention in a day or two following emergency treatment. First, Dr. Furze evaluates the extent of the fracture. He assesses any changes to facial symmetry, and he may order imaging tests — such as CT scanning — to reveal hidden structural damage. Then he develops a treatment plan.
Can facial fractures heal on their own?
Bone can naturally regenerate and heal itself. In some cases, if the fracture is small and the bone fragments are close to their original positions, Dr. Furze may recommend no further treatment apart from monitoring how the bones are healing.
Often, fractures are complex, and fragments are displaced. Leaving these to heal on their own could lead to changes in your appearance or even functional damage. A nasal fracture, for example, could lead to breathing issues unless the bones are reset to their original positions.
In many cases, surgery is necessary within 2-3 weeks of the injury. Waiting longer could risk bones starting to fuse. If the bones fuse in incorrect positions — which is called malunion — surgery could be required to break and reset the bones in their correct positions.
When you visit Dr. Furze, he may allow a little time for initial healing to start, because surgery is usually more precise and safe when swelling from the injury subsides first. Depending on your injury, Dr. Furze may use a variety of techniques, such as the following:
- Closed reduction, in which bones are set without incisions
- Open reduction, in which surgery becomes necessary to set bones together
- Facial reconstruction, in which Dr. Furze treats complex fractures with attention to correcting functional and appearance issues
If you’ve suffered a facial fracture, Dr. Furze can help you get well again. To learn more, call 949-389-6673 to book an appointment with the practice of Alexis Furze, MD, today.