Facial reconstruction is performed for a variety of reasons. Patients may need to see a plastic or reconstructive surgeon if they exhibit the following:
- Injuries to head, face or jaw
- Facial fractures
- Birth Defects
Candidates for Facial Reconstruction
In the event of facial trauma, you should seek emergency medical care. Pain, altered sensation, visual disturbance, uneven facial anatomy, and other symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor.
An x-ray or CT scan will determine if you need to undergo reconstructive surgery or treatment for a facial fracture. Your physician will evaluate areas such as the cheekbone, nose, midface, jaw and eye sockets. If you present a serious fracture or deformity, facial reconstruction may be necessary.
How Facial Reconstruction Works
To restore normal facial structure, this surgery may require several advanced techniques. If the patient has a facial fracture, the bones need to be fixated just like any other broken bone in the body. However, because a cast cannot be used on the face, a special fixation device consisting of metal plates and screws will hold the bones in place.
In more complex cases, other steps may be necessary:
- Bone grafts may need to be taken from the skull, pelvis, or ribs
- Facial bones may need repositioning and fixation (rigid fixation)
- Jaws may need to be wired together
Facial reconstruction requires several hours and is performed under general anesthesia, so the patient will sleep through the entire operation. In some cases, a tracheotomy may be necessary to ensure that swelling does not obstruct the patient’s breathing.
The goal of your plastic surgeon is to restore normal facial appearance and function. In doing so, he or she will seek to minimize risks and residual signs of the operation. When surgical incisions are necessary, they are small in size and few in number. If possible, the incisions are well hidden. Now that plastic surgeons use the latest techniques in rigid fixation, recovering from facial bone reconstruction takes less time than it did in previous years.