Dog bites differ from other types of lacerations as dogs tend to shake their heads around during an attack. This strength of the dog’s jaw results in flesh tearing, loss of soft tissue, and crushing damage to the surrounding skin. The risk of infection is greater than other types of lacerations because the organisms in the dog’s mouth are more virulent and contain a mixed contamination of bacteria. When the dog’s teeth penetrate the skin, they can inject the deeper tissue and lead to later infection, presenting as redness, fever, and swelling. Unlike a cut from a sharp object which can leave a clean wound, dog bites often result in severe and permanent scarring.
Most of the time, dog bites cause injury to highly visible areas such as the face, lips, ears, nose, neck, and hands. These types of injuries can require multiple sessions of plastic surgery over time to reduce visible scarring. About forty-percent of all dog bite cases result in injuries where a substantial amount of flesh and tissue is torn away. Victims of a dog attack can experience disfiguring and permanent scarring. Dog bites can also damage deep nerves, ligaments and tendons.
Initial treatment of any dog bite will include a thorough cleansing, antibiotic treatment, and a tetanus shot. When the bite penetrates deeply into the skin and tissue, tearing lacerations of the face, lips or ears, it should be treated by a skilled plastic surgeon. Repair of the dog bite requires surgically cutting away the contaminated tissue, along with thorough irrigation of the wound with saline or antibiotic solution. The freshened skin edges are meticulously closed under magnification. If the health status of the dog is unknown, the dog bite should be reported to the Health Department to ascertain whether the dog is up to date on rabies and other vaccinations.
Dog bites often result in disfiguring scars in very visible sites on the face. Dr Rose uses sophisticated techniques of meticulous tissue re-arrangement and skin grafting to restore facial features to a more anatomical appearance. In extreme cases, where the dog bites penetrate the deep facial muscles or nerves, micro-surgical techniques of nerve or muscle grafting are used to restore facial expression. State of the art Fraxel laser technology is used to flatten the scars and improve discoloration.
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