Face Burns: A 4-Year Experience

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Burns on the face pose unique management challenges because they are in a place that is constantly visible, so scars are hard to hide. The goal of this study was to review our experience of adult patients who had face burns. We performed a retrospective review of adult patients (≥18 years old) who were admitted to a regional burn center from July 2015 to June 2019 with face burns. Sex, age, ethnicity, burn etiology, burn size, and discharge status were collected from electronic medical records of the patients who met study criteria. Descriptive statistics, Student's t-Tests, and chi-square tests were performed in Stata/SE 16.1. Significance was defined as a P-value <. 05. In 4 years, 595/1705 patients (~35% of admissions) were admitted with face burns. The mean age was 44.9 ± 17.0 (mean ± SD) years, with the majority being men (475, 80%). The mean burn size was 19.8 ± 20.9% TBSA with 10.1 ± 19.8% TBSA being third degree. The mean head burn size for any face burn was 2.8 ± 1.8% TBSA. The majority of burns were due to flames (478, 80%) and of those 122 (21%) were from accelerant use and 43 (7%) resulted from propane or butane use. Scalds caused 53 (9%), electric 25 (4%), hot tar 5 (1%), and chemical 5 (1%). Overall, 208 (35%) patients had grafting of some portion of their body, but only 31 patients (5.2%) had face grafting. The mean age of those with face grafting compared with patients who did not need grafting was 45.9 ± 13.8 and 44.9 ± 17.2 years, respectively. Patients who needed grafting had a mean third-degree burn size of 31.7 ± 25.4% TBSA and a mean head (including face) burn size of 4.7 ± 2.0% TBSA, whereas patients who did not need grafting had a mean third-degree burn size of 8.9 ± 18.7% TBSA and a mean head burn size of 2.7 ± 1.8% head TBSA. Patients requiring face grafts had longer lengths of stay, intensive unit stays, ventilator days, and mortality than those whose face burns healed spontaneously. Overall, head burns in adults were common within the 4-year time span we studied, but only a small fraction (5%) had face grafts. The patients who needed grafting for their head burns had significantly larger total body and face burns and had a 2.4-fold higher mortality rate compared to patients who did not need grafting. Most face burns were caused by flame, especially the use of accelerants or flammable gases. Prevention efforts should focus on avoiding the use of accelerants and being careful with flammable gases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1080
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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