The cheekbone fracture belongs to the category of head and facial injuries. Not every fracture needs to be treated surgically; there are also conservative treatment methods.
What is a cheekbone fracture?
According to lawfaqs.net, a broken cheekbone usually causes relatively severe pain. These can also lead to unconsciousness and significantly reduce the patient’s quality of life.
The cheekbone is located in the middle of the face and forms the outer edge of the eye socket. The zygomatic bone (medical: Os zygomaticum) can be palpated above the cheek region without any problems. If a mechanical or direct force is applied to the bone, the cheekbone can break. Doctors also speak again and again of a lateral midface fracture. However, the fracture can also injure adjacent bones. Fractures or injuries to the temporal bone, the lower jaw, the eye socket and the frontal bone are possible.
A strong, mechanical and direct impact of violence, which is specifically exerted on the cheekbone, is one of the most common causes of a cheekbone fracture. This type of violence can occur in the context of a fall, a collision and a blow. Injuries to the cheekbones mainly occur when playing football when both players collide their heads – for example during a header duel. Traffic accidents and falls from a bicycle also increase the risk of a cheekbone fracture. Occasionally, violent confrontations, such as fights, can also cause an injury to the cheekbone.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A broken cheekbone is primarily characterized by severe pain. These usually occur immediately after the accident or fall that caused the fracture. The pain is accompanied by swelling and profuse bleeding from the nostril, maxillary sinus and, in the case of an open hernia, from the injured area.
Hematomas form around the eyes, which are dark in color and slightly painful to the touch. However, the flattened cheek is characteristic of the disease. As a result of the fracture, the bone is pushed inward or shifts to the side, resulting in the conspicuous appearance of the cheek and surrounding area. The symptoms of a broken cheekbone are acute and last for a few days.
The pain subsides after just a few hours, with diffuse pain often remaining. The swelling increases for the first few days, changing color from red to blue to yellow to green before finally going down. The bleeding subsides after a few minutes, assuming rapid treatment. In individual cases, blood can get into the tissue layers or even into the trachea and cause further symptoms.
Diagnosis & course of disease
The doctor first scans the injured area of the face. If there is a suspicion of a broken cheekbone, an x-ray is taken. Imaging diagnostics can not only identify the fracture, but also its extent. In the further course, the doctor examines the adjacent bones in order to be able to determine or rule out any injuries.
Aesthetic impairments or complications are not to be feared if professional treatment is carried out. In very few cases does the “flattened” cheek remain. However, if the patient so wishes, this can be corrected by means of an operation.
A broken cheekbone usually causes relatively severe pain. These can also lead to unconsciousness and significantly reduce the patient’s quality of life. In most cases, the pain from the affected region also spreads to other regions of the face and can also lead to symptoms there. There is also severe swelling and bleeding.
Nosebleeds can also occur. Hematomas can form around the eyes, which can cause mild visual impairment. If the fracture of the cheekbone is not treated early, it can lead to irreversible consequential damage in the patient. However, this fracture does not have to be treated in every case. In most cases, those affected suffer from aesthetic problems and no longer feel beautiful.
Inferiority complexes and low self-esteem also occur. The treatment of the zygomatic fracture does not lead to further complications. With the help of surgical interventions and medication, the symptoms can be limited relatively well.
Aesthetic complaints are usually corrected well. Life expectancy is not reduced by this fracture. In most cases, however, there are other injuries to the face and the entire body in addition to the cheekbone fracture, which can lead to complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the person concerned suffers from severe pain in the facial area after an accident, violence or a fall, a doctor should be consulted. Although surgical intervention is not always necessary, the bone damage can be precisely analyzed using imaging methods. Only then can a decision be made about appropriate and optimal treatment. A doctor is required in the case of bleeding on the face, the development of hematomas, severe swelling or discoloration of the skin.
If the person concerned suffers from severe nosebleeds or bleeding in the jaw area is noticed, a doctor should be consulted. If the face can no longer be moved without pain, the facial muscles cannot be tensed or relaxed as usual and a deformity of the face is noticed, a doctor should be consulted. A flattened cheek is considered unusual and should be checked out by a doctor. Abnormalities or pain during chewing movements, a refusal to eat, headaches or toothache are indications of an injury.
A doctor must be consulted so that medical care can be initiated as quickly as possible. Impaired vision, a blocked nose or irregular breathing are also among the indications that should be clarified by a doctor. A doctor is required for sensory disorders of the skin in the entire facial area, pain when touched or numbness.
Treatment & Therapy
The cheekbone fracture is a relatively serious injury. As a rule, the injury is corrected surgically. However, if there is no displacement of the bone, conservative therapy can also bring the desired success.
If the doctor finds a non-displaced fracture (not displaced), it can be treated without surgery in some cases. The patient should observe physical rest for several weeks. Swelling that occurs in the facial area needs to be cooled. It is important that the affected person never holds the cooling material directly on the skin surface, otherwise skin damage is possible. The cooling material should therefore be placed on the affected area in a towel.
If there is a displacement of the bone or if the doctor has determined that pieces of bone have splintered off, an operation is carried out. During the operation, special plates and screws are used to join the bone fragments and then fix them in their original position. During the procedure, the patient is under general anesthesia. In a few cases, however, local anesthesia or local anesthesia can also be administered.
The doctor makes a small skin incision that extends from the lower eyelid to the eyebrow. Another surgical method, which is rarely used, is through the patient’s oral cavity. If there is an injury to the eye socket, the skin incision is made directly behind the hairline.
In the further course of the operation, the doctor tries to return the bone fragments, which are not in their natural position, to their original position. Then metal plates and screws are used to fix the fragments together. If the patient only has a cheekbone fracture – without further injuries – the position can be fixed with a “hook technique”. If the hook technique is successful, no screws are used.
If the eye socket is also affected by an injury, an extensive reconstruction of the midface must be created. Vessels can also be injured, so that the doctor often needs balloons and tamponades. If the doctor determines during the procedure that pronounced defects are present, a transplant may also be necessary, among other things.
In addition to foreign materials, pieces of cartilage and bone obtained from the ribs and hips can also be used. The plates and screws needed to fix the cheekbone can be removed from the bone one year after the operation. However, such an intervention requires a further operation, which is why many patients – as long as the plates and screws do not cause any problems – refrain from removing the foreign materials.
If there is a significant impairment of the aesthetics, the specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery treats the patient in the further course of the operation and restores the affected area – to the satisfaction of the person concerned. These reasons are also what make a relatively good prognosis possible. As a rule, an operation is sufficient to fix the bone or correct the face so that there are no aesthetic impairments. Only in the case of very complex injuries is it possible that a second operation must be performed.
Outlook & Forecast
A cheekbone fracture that has not been displaced can usually be treated conservatively by resting it and usually heals within a few weeks without an operation. In the case of a cheekbone fracture with several existing bone fragments and a pronounced dislocation, a good surgical correction is necessary. Specialists in oral and maxillofacial surgery can usually completely restore the aesthetics of the face in most patients.
The prognosis for a broken cheekbone is therefore very good. In the majority of patients, an operation is sufficient to restore the original appearance. A second corrective surgical intervention is only necessary in exceptional cases. This is the case when the cheek is still a little flattened compared to the opposite side.
About four weeks after the surgical procedure, the cheekbone has grown back together and healed, but sufficient stability is often only achieved after eight to nine weeks. The duration of a zygomatic fracture varies greatly from patient to patient, but the healing process can be accelerated by taking it easy. However, patients who have broken their cheekbones may only be completely free of symptoms after up to six months.
There are no preventive measures that prevent a cheekbone fracture. It is important that special caution is required in sports that increase the risk of a cheekbone fracture. Helmets that also protect the cheekbones do not yet exist.
An essential element of aftercare is the early diagnosis of a renewed illness. Doctors expect this to provide the best possible treatment for the life-threatening signs. However, such aftercare is not indicated for a broken cheekbone.
The trauma to the bones is usually random and unpredictable. Helmets can only protect you in certain high-risk sports and thus prevent a fracture. However, the patient is responsible for this type of preventive aftercare. A repeated cheekbone fracture also does not result in a reduction in life expectancy.
A final recovery occurs instead. The aftercare also includes support functions in everyday life. The patient experiences this as long as the fracture has not yet completely healed. He is put on sick leave and called in for a follow-up examination. This documents the healing process.
Suitable imaging methods are X-rays and computed tomography. There is also an ophthalmological examination. Once the broken cheekbone has healed completely, the person affected can continue their life without any symptoms and without having to fear the consequences of the disease. Therefore, there is no reason for follow-up care after healing.
You can do that yourself
If a cheekbone fracture is suspected, the first thing to do is rest and cool. An open fracture should be covered with an aseptic dressing until the emergency doctor arrives.
After the initial treatment, the affected bone must continue to be spared. The doctor treating you will prescribe appropriate medicines to relieve the pain. In addition, there are various natural remedies – such as comfrey and bamboo tabashir – as well as a healthy and balanced diet. Foods with a lot of calcium, magnesium and potassium are particularly recommended. The active ingredient silicon can also promote bone healing. In addition, sports activities that could jeopardize recovery should be temporarily reduced. Regular exercise, on the other hand, can promote the healing process. In consultation with the doctor, for example, physiotherapy, yoga or Pilatesbe performed. Gentle massages or a visit to the sauna also promote healing. Both stimulate blood circulation and support wound healing of skin and bones. Finally, good wound care should be ensured.
If the broken cheekbone has not healed after ten weeks at the latest, the doctor must be informed. In the case of permanent changes, it is sometimes useful to talk to a plastic surgeon.