Facial Plast Surg 2021; 37(04): 432-438
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1725130
Original Article

Mechanisms of Soft Tissue Injury and Repair from Ballistics

Jose E. Barrera
1  Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
2  Department of Otolaryngology, University of Texas San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
› Author Affiliations


Projectile injuries to the face deserve particular attention to evaluate for involvement of critical structures and functional elements and treat the devastating effects on facial aesthetics. Ballistic trauma to the maxillofacial region often has significant soft tissue and bony defects, creating a greater challenge to the reconstructive surgeon. The main goals of treatment of projectile injuries to the face are decreasing the amount of contaminants and nonviable tissue at the site, ensuring functionality, and restoring aesthetic appearance. There exists a lack of robust research on the subject. Soft tissue injuries from high-velocity projectiles have changed the perspective on treating acute injuries to the face and neck. Injuries encountered during both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom give the author pause to reflect upon a different wounding pattern than that encountered in stateside trauma centers. Given the dissemination of high-velocity weaponry by enemy combatants such as the improvised explosive device, mortar round, and high-velocity rifles, a higher incidence of facial wounds has been reported. The mechanism of injury and a stepwise approach for surgical repair are discussed incorporating advanced trauma life support principles and a reconstructive ladder of repair.

Publication History

Publication Date:
25 February 2021 (online)

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