Potential Risks and Complications of Facial Reconstruction

Facial reconstruction can repair the bone structure as well as the cartilage and muscles, and reshape the face. The procedure may involve using skin grafts and the cutting and repositioning of bones. Severe cases of facial reconstruction may involve the use of skin, muscles and bones from other areas of the body. Although this type of procedure is extremely beneficial for many, it does have potential risks and complications.

Breathing Difficulties

As with any surgery, there is always the risk of breathing difficulties from anesthesia, especially withᅠlonger procedures.ᅠClose monitoring is done during and after the surgery, as breathing complications are common after facial reconstruction. Any breathing difficultiesᅠshould be reported immediately. Breathing exercises are encouraged after the surgery.

Facial reconstruction can cause swelling of the face and neck, which can result with blocking of the airway. If this occurs,ᅠthe surgeon may choose to make a small incision and aᅠtubeᅠmay beᅠplaced into the neck to create an airway.ᅠᅠ

Arterial Insufficiency and Bleeding or Blood Clots

If the arterial insufficiency is caused by pressure, the wound dressing may be loosened or a blood clot may be drained.

Excessive bleeding could lead to a blood clot. Blood thinners or aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications and herbal supplements should be avoided for at least two weeks before the surgery and one week after to avoid bleeding. Always follow the instructions of the surgeon for pre-operative care and preparation before the surgery.

Necrosis of the Skin

Necrosis (the death of living cells usually from the interruption of blood supply) of the skin is another possible risk. If it is only a partial necrosis of the wound, then local wound care is normally done. More severe cases may need debridement (the surgical removal of dead tissue to promote healing). When these measures fail, a repeat surgery could be necessary.

Swelling and Infection

A certain degree of swelling is normal after surgery. If the swelling is accompanied by increased pain, fever, leakage from a wound orᅠa rapid pulse rate, these could be signs of an infection andᅠthe surgeon should be contacted immediately.

Bruises and Scarring

There may be some bruising under the skin and scarring, resulting from the surgery. The chin, for example, has very little subcutaneous tissue and scars can occur. When there is scarring, dermabrasion (the removal of skin imperfections by wearing of the skin) may be an option.

Other Potential Risks and Complications

Other potential risks and complications of facial reconstruction include nasal obstruction and deformities, loss of bone grafts, possible follow-up surgeries, brain and nerve damage, allergy and reaction to anesthesia, anosmia (absence of the sense of smell), blindness, cerebrospinal leak (leakage from the brain or spinal cord), traumatic telecanthus (abnormal increased distance between the corner of the eyes), malocclusion (faulty contact between the upper and lower teeth), neurological deficits (deficits of the nerves or nervous system) and distortion of the facial structures.

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