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Facial Fracture

A facial fracture means you have one or more broken bones in your face. These may be in your jaw, nose, cheeks, or the sockets around your eyes. Car accidents are the most common cause of facial fractures. Fights, falls, and sports injuries can also injure facial bones.

Boy holding hands to face and looking distressed.

When to Go to the Emergency Room (ER)

A broken bone in your face is cause for concern. That's because your airways may become clogged with bone fragments, blood clots, or swollen tissue. Go to the ER or call 911 right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Pain and swelling in your face

  • Trouble swallowing or breathing

  • An upper and lower jaw that don't meet properly, or pain when you move your jaw

  • A displaced jaw or nose

  • An open wound where you can see the bone

  • Blood or clear fluid from your nose

  • Blurred vision, double vision, or problems moving your eyeball

What to Expect in the ER

You will likely be given medication for pain. A doctor will ask about your injury and examine your head and face. X-rays or other imaging tests may be done. Treatment of facial fractures occurs in two stages:

  • Reduction: The broken bones are put back into place. This is often done after the swelling subsides, but severe fractures may be repaired right away.

  • Fixation: The broken bones are held together so they heal correctly. A fractured jaw is likely to be wired shut for a time. A broken nose is treated with a splint or soft packing. Surgery may be done to repair and secure broken bones around your eyes.

Online Medical Reviewer: Costello, Melissa W, MD, FACEP
Online Medical Reviewer: Williams, James M, MS, DO, FACEP
Last Review Date: 12/29/2011
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