When dogs attack humans, injuries to the neck and face are widespread. These wounds are especially prevalent in children who stand more closely to the size of most larger dog breeds. Facial lacerations from a dog bite can be especially severe due to the dog’s instinct to clamp down and shake its victim, which can result in massive tearing, crushed flesh and deep puncture wounds.
According to Zwivel.com, approximately 40% of canine attack wounds are severe enough to require reconstructive surgery to restore the torn tissue. Fortunately, modern surgical techniques (e.g., laser treatments, skin grafting) can often transform what might have been permanently disfiguring injuries into faintly visible scars.
Treatment of dog attack victim first centers around the overriding concern of the significant risk of infection. Because practitioners try to avoid trapping bacteria and other contaminants under the skin, the initial damage is rarely completely sutured, and this could lead to a higher degree of scarring.
After the emergency treatment to flush infectious substances out of the wounds, if facial reconstructive surgery is necessary, the first major procedure generally takes place almost immediately. If the damage is substantial, several reconstruction attempts may take place; however, most follow-up surgeries are primarily cosmetic to restore the skin to the most natural appearance possible. Reconstructive surgical techniques frequently include:
- Muscle, bone or skin flap reconstruction
- Scar tissue debulking
- Cartilage, skin or fat grafting
- Skin color and evenness laser resurfacing
Plastic surgeons might combine any number of these and possibly other methods to counteract facial marring. Victims of dog attacks often have an excellent chance that reconstructive surgery could help return them to a normal appearance and quality of life.