Facial fractures are broken bones in your face, which can include your jaw, nose and eye sockets. Common causes include motor vehicle accidents, falls, physical assault and gunshot wounds. Treatment typically involves surgical reconstruction.
Facial fractures refer to broken bones in your face. This type of facial trauma (also called maxillofacial trauma) can happen if you’re involved in an accident, such as a car crash or fall. Facial fractures are also common among victims of physical assault and gunshot wounds. Your facial bones are thinner than a lot of other bones in your body, making them prone to injury.
The most common facial fractures include:
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Facial fracture symptoms depend on which area of your face has trauma.
General symptoms may include:
If you have a broken nose, you may have:
If you have fractured eye sockets, you may develop:
Fractured jaw symptoms may include:
The most common cause of facial fractures is physical assault, followed by vehicular accidents and falls. Other causes include:
Facial bone fractures can distort your appearance and interfere with normal function. For example, a person with a jaw fracture will have difficulty eating. Someone with a nasal fracture may have trouble breathing through their nose.
Facial trauma can also result in infections, internal bleeding and neurological issues. For instance, some facial bone fractures can cause a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak.
To reduce your risk of complications, you should see a healthcare provider immediately following facial trauma.
During a visit with a healthcare provider, they’ll:
Imaging tests help healthcare providers diagnose facial fractures and rule out other issues like dislocation. Computed tomography (CT) is the most common imaging test used for diagnosing facial fractures.
Facial fracture treatment involves reduction and fixation.
For a complex fracture with multiple broken bones, you’ll need facial reconstructive surgery. Specific treatment depends on the location and extent of your facial injury.
Closed reduction involves resetting fractured bones without surgery. This means your provider can manually reset your facial bones without making incisions (cuts) or exposing your bone.
Open reduction involves surgical intervention. In these cases, the fractures are too complex for manual resetting. A provider will need to explore the area surgically to reset your facial bones.
Severe facial trauma may require reconstructive surgery. There are two main goals of facial reconstructive surgery:
It’s different for everyone. It depends on several factors, including the extent of your facial trauma, which treatment you had and your body’s own healing capacity.
People who go through facial reconstructive surgery usually notice that swelling and bruising fade after about two weeks. But it can take up to a few months for complete recovery.
There’s no way to completely prevent facial fractures. However, you can take some steps to reduce the extent of injuries.
Some people may not have long-term effects following a facial fracture. However, long-term complications are possible and may include:
Early intervention and treatment can reduce your risk for long-term complications. Your healthcare provider can tell you what to expect in your situation.
If you think you could have a facial fracture, it’s important to seek medical help right away. Call a healthcare provider if you develop:
Head to your nearest emergency room if you have any of the following:
If you have facial trauma or fractures, here are some questions you might want to ask your healthcare provider:
The majority of facial fractures aren’t life-threatening. However, some can lead to serious issues with your vision, airways, respiratory system or central nervous system.
You should see a healthcare provider any time you have facial trauma, even if you think it’s not serious. They can recommend appropriate treatment.
It’s possible for a facial fracture to heal on its own, especially if the broken bone stays in its proper position. However, in many cases, a healthcare provider will need to reset your facial bones for proper healing.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Facial fractures are a result of trauma. Sometimes the damage extends beyond what you can see. Chances are, it’s not serious and only requires nonsurgical treatment. But if you have a severe facial fracture, or several complex fractures, you’ll probably need surgical intervention. If you think you have a broken facial bone, it’s important to seek medical care right away. Prompt treatment can reduce your risk of long-term complications.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/11/2023.
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