The conservative management of facial fractures: indications and outcomes

C. P N Back*, N. R. McLean, P. J. Anderson, D. J. David

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background: With little in the published literature on the conservative management of facial fractures we set out to determine whether our current criteria for treatment are valid. Method: Two hundred and thirty adult patients with fractures of the facial skeleton were treated conservatively by our unit between February 1997 and January 2003. Their notes were reviewed retrospectively. Results: Most patients were males (76%), the average age was 38 years, and drugs or alcohol were a significant aspect of the history in 30% of the cases. The most common mechanism of injury was assault (47%), followed by falls and sporting injuries. Fifty percent of the fractures involved the orbital or orbito-zygomatic complex, and 55% had associated injuries. Average follow-up was for six weeks (range 0-44 weeks). Most patients were managed conservatively based on our current criteria of un-displaced/minimally displaced fracture (57%); or minimal/no symptoms (24%). At final review, a number had residual symptoms, but only three required corrective surgery. The other reasons for conservative management included patient non-compliance (11%), and medical contraindications (8%). Conclusion: Our results support current indications for the conservative management of facial fractures, but emphasise the need for ongoing follow-up of these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Complications
  • Conservative management
  • Facial fractures
  • Follow-up


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