Facial Injuries

The face is a complex and delicate structure of numerous bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues that contribute to breathing, eating, speaking, and facial expressions.

Facial injuries can occur due to various causes, ranging from accidents and falls to sports injuries, assaults, and medical conditions. In severe cases, facial trauma can cause scarring or disfigurement that has a profound impact on a person’s quality of life.

At Joe Durham, our attorneys stand ready to help accident victims with facial injuries navigate the legal process. Call 229-210-6226 today for a free consultation!

Table of Contents

Anatomy of the Face

The human face consists of several key anatomical structures.


The facial skeleton is composed of 14 bones, including the mandible (lower jaw), maxilla (upper jaw), nasal bones, zygomatic bones (cheekbones), and frontal bone (forehead). These bones provide structural support and protection for the facial organs and tissues.


Numerous muscles in the face control facial expressions, chewing, and speaking. These muscles are innervated by branches of the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) and include the orbicularis oculi, orbicularis oris, zygomaticus major and minor, and buccinator muscles, among others.


The facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) is responsible for controlling most of the muscles of facial expression. It also carries sensory information from the taste buds on the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and provides parasympathetic innervation to the lacrimal, submandibular, and sublingual glands.

Blood Vessels

The face is supplied with blood by branches of the external carotid artery, including the facial artery and its branches. Venous drainage is primarily via the facial vein, which drains into the internal jugular vein.

Soft Tissues

Soft tissues of the face include the skin, mucous membranes, fat pads, and connective tissues. These tissues provide protection, support, and cushioning for the underlying structures of the face.

Common Causes of Facial Injuries

Facial injuries can occur as a result of various causes, including car accidents, falls, violence, and more.


Traumatic injuries to the face may result from motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, assaults, or occupational accidents. These injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to fractures, lacerations, and soft tissue injuries.

Blunt Force Trauma

Blows to the face from objects or impacts can cause contusions, abrasions, hematomas, and fractures. Common examples include being struck by a fist, kicked in the face, or hit by a projectile.

Penetrating Injuries

Sharp objects such as knives, broken glass, or projectiles can penetrate the skin and underlying tissues of the face, causing lacerations, puncture wounds, and damage to internal structures.

Facial Injuries

Sports Injuries

Participation in contact sports or recreational activities can increase the risk of facial injuries, including fractures, contusions, and dental trauma. Examples include facial injuries sustained during football, basketball, hockey, or martial arts.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, bone tumors, or congenital anomalies, may predispose individuals to facial fractures or injuries with minimal trauma. Additionally, conditions affecting balance, coordination, or cognitive function may increase the risk of falls and subsequent facial injuries.

Types of Facial Trauma

Facial injuries can range from minor bruises to severe fractures and disfigurement. Here are some common types of facial trauma.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries encompass a range of injuries to the skin, mucous membranes, muscles, and connective tissues of the face. These injuries may include lacerations, abrasions, contusions, hematomas, avulsions (where the tissue is torn off), and crush injuries.

Facial Fractures

Facial fractures involve breaks or cracks in the bones of the face, including the mandible, maxilla, nasal bones, zygomatic bones, and orbital bones. Fractures may be classified as simple or compound, closed or open, and may involve single or multiple bones.

Dental Injuries

Trauma to the face can cause dental injuries such as avulsions (knocked-out teeth), fractures, luxations (dislocation of teeth), or injuries to the surrounding soft tissues. Dental injuries require prompt evaluation and treatment by a dentist or oral surgeon to prevent complications and preserve tooth function.

Orbital Injuries

Orbital injuries involve trauma to the eye socket (orbit) and surrounding structures, including the eyeball, extraocular muscles, optic nerve, and surrounding bones. Orbital fractures, globe injuries, and orbital hematoma are common types of orbital injuries.

Nasal Injuries

Nasal injuries may result from blunt force trauma to the nose. Common nasal injuries include a broken nose, nasal septal hematoma, or nasal lacerations. Nasal injuries can lead to nasal deformity, nasal obstruction, epistaxis (nosebleed), and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of Facial Injuries

The symptoms of facial injuries may vary depending on the type and severity of the injury but may include:

  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling in the affected area
  • Visible deformity or asymmetry of the face
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing or nasal obstruction
  • Bleeding or lacerations on the skin or mucous membranes
  • Numbness or tingling in the affected area
  • Vision changes, double vision, or eye pain
  • Dental pain, sensitivity, or looseness/movement of teeth

Diagnosis of Facial Injuries

Diagnosing facial injuries typically involves a thorough history and physical examination, including assessment of symptoms, mechanism of injury, and visual inspection of the affected area. Additional diagnostic tests may be ordered to evaluate the extent of the injury and identify any underlying structural damage.

Let’s look at common diagnostic tests for facial injuries.

Imaging Studies

X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be used to visualize fractures, soft tissue injuries, and internal structures of the face. Imaging studies help determine the location, severity, and extent of the injury and guide treatment planning.

Dental Evaluation

Dental injuries may require evaluation by a dentist or oral surgeon, who can assess the integrity of the teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues. Dental X-rays may be performed to evaluate tooth fractures, root fractures, and periapical pathology.

Ophthalmic Evaluation

Orbital injuries may necessitate evaluation by an ophthalmologist or oculoplastic surgeon, who can assess visual acuity, intraocular pressure, extraocular movements, and integrity of the eye structures. Ophthalmic imaging studies such as ultrasound or orbital CT scans may be ordered to assess orbital fractures or globe injuries.

Facial trauma, eye injury

Nasal Endoscopy

Nasal injuries may require nasal endoscopy to evaluate the nasal cavity, nasal septum, and paranasal sinuses. Nasal endoscopy allows for direct visualization of the nasal anatomy and may be performed to assess for nasal fractures, septal hematoma, or other nasal pathology.

Treatment of Facial Injuries

The treatment of facial injuries depends on the type and severity of the injury and the patient’s overall health and treatment goals.  Treatment methods may range from conservative management with wound care and pain control to surgical intervention for complex fractures or soft tissue injuries.

Conservative Management

Minor facial injuries, such as superficial lacerations or contusions, may be managed conservatively with wound care, pain management, and close observation. This may involve cleaning and debriding the wound, applying topical antibiotics, and dressing changes to promote healing and prevent infection. Over-the-counter pain medications or prescription pain relievers may be used to manage pain and discomfort.

Reduction and Immobilization

Fractures of the facial bones may require reduction (repositioning) and immobilization to facilitate proper healing and alignment. Closed reduction techniques may be employed for simple fractures, while open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) may be necessary for more complex fractures.

This may involve the use of plates, screws, wires, or other fixation devices to stabilize the fractured bones and promote healing.


Severe or complex facial injuries may require surgery to repair damaged tissues, restore facial aesthetics, and preserve function. Surgical procedures for facial injuries may include open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of fractures, soft tissue repair, reconstruction of facial defects, or revision of scar tissue.

These procedures are typically performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons, plastic surgeons, or oculoplastic surgeons with specialized training in facial trauma surgery.

Dental Treatment

Dental injuries, such as knocked out teeth, fractures, or luxations, may require prompt evaluation and treatment by a dentist or oral surgeon. Treatment options for dental injuries may include reimplantation of avulsed teeth, splinting of mobile teeth, root canal therapy, or extraction of severely damaged teeth.

Dental prostheses such as crowns, bridges, or dental implants may be used to restore function and aesthetics in cases of tooth loss or damage.

Ophthalmic Care

Orbital injuries and injuries to the eye may require specialized ophthalmic evaluation and treatment. Treatment options may include orbital fracture repair, management of orbital hematoma, exploration and repair of globe injuries, or surgical intervention to address intraocular pathology.

Ophthalmologists may also prescribe medications such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, or lubricating eye drops to manage inflammation, infection, or dry eye symptoms.

Nasal Reconstruction

Nasal injuries, including nasal fractures and septal hematoma, may require nasal reconstruction to restore nasal function and aesthetics. Surgical techniques for nasal reconstruction may include closed reduction of nasal fractures, septoplasty to correct nasal septal deviation, or rhinoplasty to reshape the nasal dorsum or tip.

Rehabilitation and Follow-up

Following treatment for facial injuries, individuals may require rehabilitation and follow-up care to optimize recovery and outcomes. This may include physical therapy to restore range of motion, strength, and function, as well as speech therapy or occupational therapy to address functional deficits or difficulties with activities of daily living.

Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers are essential to monitor healing, address complications, and adjust treatment as needed.


Facial injuries can occur due to various causes, ranging from accidents and falls to sports injuries, assaults, and medical conditions. These injuries can have serious complications and a profound impact on appearance and quality of life.

Prompt evaluation and treatment by qualified healthcare providers are essential to optimize outcomes and minimize complications following facial trauma.

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