A facial laceration is one form of facial trauma, a term that encompasses any form of physical trauma affecting the face. While facial traumas tend not to be life threatening, they have the potential to cause significant loss of function and disfigurement. A facial laceration can cause severe bleeding that could potentially be life threatening depending on the severity of the cut. Complex lacerations may involve loss of tissue and usually require plastic surgery to repair. The main symptoms of a facial laceration are mild to serious breaking of the skin which causes bleeding. The severity of the bleeding depends on the severity of the laceration. There will usually be pain in the area of the laceration, and there may be a loss of feeling in the area.
A facial laceration is typically caused when an object strikes and pierces the skin, causing a wound to open. The severity of the laceration depends on a variety of issues. Some are more serious than others, and can reach deep tissue which causes serious bleeding. Facial lacerations are common in sporting activities, specifically hockey. Facial lacerations in hockey are usually caused from getting clipped in the face with a stick. High sticks usually cause mild to moderate lacerations, although they can be severe depending on the force behind the blow and where it cuts the face. A facial laceration can also be caused by getting hit in the face with a hockey puck, or in rare cases, getting sliced by a skate. Since skate blades are razor sharp, these tend to be very severe lacerations. Facial lacerations are also very common in mixed martial arts and boxing because of the direct blows to the face. Facial lacerations can occur in almost any sport where the face is open and susceptible to being hit. For non-athletes, car crashes are the most common cause of facial lacerations.
The first step to treating any laceration to the skin is cleaning the wound. This is extremely important because it helps fight off inflammation and infection. For mild lacerations, using a tropical ointment like Neosporin is usually effective. Afterwards, apply a basic bandage to seal the wound and prevent further bleeding. Moderate and severe lacerations require immediate medical attention. For athletes, a trainer can usually fix any laceration with stitches. For non-athletes, a trip to the emergency room is required. The doctor may use stitches or staples to close the wound. While waiting for medical attention, it is very important to make sure the wound is cleaned. You should also apply pressure with a clean bandage to prevent and limit further bleeding. After the cut is cleaned and stitched up, you will be free to go home. Your doctor may prescribe medication if the pain is severe but usually over-the-counter pain killers will work.
The recovery time depends on how severe the cut is. For athletes, unless the cut is extremely severe and life threatening, they usually return to play immediately after the cut has been stitched. For non-athletes, a day or two off work may be required. There may be a mark or scar for weeks, although the bleeding should stop right after the area is stitched up. Any pain should be dealt with by over-the-counter medication. The length of time the stitches will be in your face varies, although typically they last 4-5 days. One of the common side effects of a facial laceration is a lack of appetite. Try to eat a liquid or light diet to make sure you are still getting proper nutrients. To prevent a facial laceration, make sure you wear the proper equipment. Hockey players are advised to wear a full cage or visor (although a visor won’t prevent all facial lacerations like a full cage does). The American Academy of Family Physicians has more information on treating skin lacerations.