What is facial trauma repair?

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Facial trauma repair: Overview

Facial trauma repair is a type of surgery. It fixes an injury to the face or jaw. It may be done to stop bleeding, repair damaged tissue, or fix broken bones.

You will get medicine to make you sleep during the surgery.

You may go home the same day as your surgery. Or you may need to stay in the hospital overnight. If you have other injuries, you may need to stay in the hospital longer. How long it takes to heal will depend on what type of injury you have. It may take a few months.

How can you care for yourself after facial trauma repair?


  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. Sleep with your head up by using two or three pillows. You can also try to sleep with your head up in a reclining chair.
  • Avoid any activity that might re-injure your face or jaw, until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for cleaning your teeth and mouth.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You will probably need to take at least 1 to 2 weeks off from work. But you may need to take longer off work, depending on your injury and the type of work you do.


  • Follow your doctor's advice about what you can eat. You may need to eat a soft diet, or you may have to drink your meals through a straw.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your pain medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • If you have an incision, or cuts or scrapes on your face, wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry.
  • Your doctor may give you other instructions about how to care for your incision. Follow your doctor's instructions exactly.


  • Put ice or a cold pack on your face or jaw for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this 3 or more times a day for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

Other instructions

  • If your jaw is wired shut, keep wire cutters with you at all times in case you throw up. Your doctor will show you how to use them.

How do you prepare for facial trauma repair surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

After facial trauma repair: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You are bleeding from the incision.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have trouble talking or swallowing.
  • Your mouth is bleeding.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

After facial trauma repair: Overview

Facial trauma repair is surgery to fix an injury to the face or jaw. The surgery may have been done to stop bleeding, repair damaged tissue, or fix broken bones.

Your face may be swollen and bruised. It may take 5 to 7 days for the swelling to go down, and 10 to 14 days for the bruising to fade. It may be hard to eat at first.

If you have stitches, the doctor may need to remove them about a week after surgery.

It will probably take a few months for you to heal after surgery. Your face may look different than it did before your injury. Sometimes more surgery is needed later to help make your face look as close to how it did before the injury as possible.

When you can return to work depends on the injury you had and what type of work you do. You may be able to go back to work in 1 to 2 weeks.

What happens on the day of facial trauma repair surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The length of time it will take to do the surgery depends on your injury. Your doctor can tell you what to expect.
  • You may have bandages or strips of tape on your face.
  • Your jaws may be wired together. This will hold the bones in place while they heal.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.