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Assessment and management of facial lacerations

Judd E Hollander, MD
Martin Camacho, APRN, ACNP-BC, ENP-BC
Section Editors
Anne M Stack, MD
Allan B Wolfson, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


Facial lacerations warrant a detailed and meticulous approach to evaluation due to their cosmetic importance. Patients are often concerned and disconcerted about the potential for scarring from facial lacerations [1-5]. While the majority of emergency care providers are adept at the repair of facial lacerations, the technical nature of a repair related to the underlying anatomy and normal function may occasionally warrant a specialized consultation.

As with all lacerations, a proper evaluation and exploration of the wound is essential. Prior to closure, the clinician should perform an overall trauma assessment, and identify any adjacent bony injuries and disrupted anatomy (especially muscle laceration or neurovascular compromise) or involvement of specialized structures (eg, eyes, teeth). Wound débridement, cleansing, and closure are facilitated by local anesthesia, regional nerve block, or procedural sedation, depending upon the size and complexity of the laceration.

The assessment and management of facial lacerations will be reviewed here. Minor wound management, methods of suture placement, and repair of adjacent anatomic sites are discussed in detail separately:

(See "Minor wound preparation and irrigation".)

(See "Closure of skin wounds with sutures".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Nov 18, 2015.
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