Severe ballistic or avulsion injuries to the face create complex, composite defects. We report the results of an aggressive management algorithm to optimize facial form and function: (1) the initial encounter, (2) definitive reconstruction with vascularized tissue, and (3) aesthetic and prosthetic refinement. Retrospective case series of 49 patients in 2 tertiary care institutions. Patients were evaluated for age, gender, mechanism of injury, anatomic subsites involved, surgical procedures, flaps utilized, complications, and functional outcomes. Forty defects were gunshot wounds, 9 resulted from major avulsive trauma. Involved sites included 13 oromandibular, 21 midface/upper face, and 15 combined sites; 54 free flaps were utilized, 21 were soft tissue and 33 contained bone. No flap failures occurred. Function and cosmesis were best in the oromandibular only group, and worst in the combined group with nasal and/or orbital tissue loss. Treatment of severe facial trauma requires early tissue debridement with bony repair and/or stenting to minimize scar contracture. Free tissue transfer techniques allow simultaneous reconstruction of the bony framework and overlying tissues. Multiple secondary procedures are frequently required for optimal aesthetic restoration. EBM rating: C.
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