Facial Trauma



Skull and facial fractures are caused by trauma to the head from:

  • Falls
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • A direct blow to the head
  • Gunshot

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk are:

  • Playing sports without head protection
  • Having a health problem that may result in falls, such as weak muscles
  • Not wearing a seat belt



Problems may be:

  • Swelling and pain
  • Headache
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Leaking clear fluid through the nose
  • Blood in the ears or nose
  • Problems moving the face or mouth
  • Uneven dental bite
  • Eye problems, such as double vision or problems moving the eyes
  • Breathing problems
  • Problems hearing
  • Numbness or tingling of the face
  • Changes in the way the face looks


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your head.

Images may be taken. This can be done with a CT scan. X-rays may also be taken.



It will take several weeks to heal. The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the bone as it heals. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain
  • Devices that help with breathing

Putting Bones Back in Place

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—anesthesia will be used to decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
  • With surgery—pins, wires, plates, screws, or stitches in the bone or tendons may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place


Most fractures are due to accidents. Wearing a seat belt and helmet may help prevent some injuries. Healthy bones and muscles may also help prevent falls. This may be done through diet and exercise.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.