The face is considered the central organ for human expression, recognition, and communication. It contains four of the vital sense organs namely, the nose, eyes, ears, and tongue. In humans, it is found on the anterior (front) part of the head and extends from the forehead to the chin. Its shape and appearance are, to a large extent, determined by the underlying bones and muscle structures.
Its parts include:
- The forehead, or the skin below the hairline and bordered by the eyebrows
- The eyes, which sit in the orbit and protected by eyelashes and eyelids
- The nose, which includes the nostrils and septum
- The cheeks, which cover the jaw and the maxilla
- The mouth, which contains the tongue and teeth
The face also has a unique skin envelope that reacts to a range of stimuli through a vast network of nerve endings and serves as a host that makes vision, feeding, and phonation possible.
Common Face-Related Problems / Conditions
Facial injury or trauma – These are injuries that affect the jaw, nose, cheek, eye socket, or forehead and are usually caused by a blunt force or a wound. Most cases are due to sports injuries, violence, and vehicular accidents.
Trigeminal neuralgia – This is a condition characterized by chronic pain that can range from a sudden sharp pain to a persistent shock-like pain that affects only one side of the face. This condition affects the trigeminal nerve that carries sensation from the face to the brain.
Bell’s palsy – A condition characterized by facial paralysis that usually affects only one side of the face. The cause of Bell’s palsy has yet to be fully understood, but it is believed to be the result of a viral infection that causes the inflammation of facial nerves.
Congenital defects of the face – These are marked by underdeveloped or abnormally prominent facial features. The most common are cleft lip and cleft palate.
Common Face-Related Procedures and Surgeries
Facial surgery – Surgery is almost always necessary in cases of major facial injuries. The procedure is aimed at controlling bleeding, treating fractured bone segments, and restoring normal function and appearance of the face. It can come in the form of cleft lip/palate repair, facial reconstruction, and ear tube surgery to treat congenital facial defects.
Facial nerve repair – This refers to a group of surgical procedures aimed at repairing facial nerve damage and can come in the form of direct repair, nerve substitution or nerve grafting. These procedures are minimally invasive and typically make use of modern techniques that can help in nerve regeneration for the treatment of conditions like Bell’s palsy and trigeminal neuralgia.
Facial cosmetic surgery – This refers to a wide range of cosmetic plastic surgical procedures that reshape facial features to restore or improve appearance. The most common are forehead lift, facelift, brow lift (to remove wrinkles), eyelid surgery (for droopy eyelids), scar removal or revision, Botox and dermal fillers (for anti-aging), and rhinoplasty and chin surgery (to improve the appearance of the nose and chin, respectively).