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How Is a Dog Bite Different From Other Lacerations?

More than 4 million people in the United States suffer dog bites each year. These bites most often cause injury to the face, neck, head, and hands. In some cases, the bites leave serious tissue damage and scarring. The unique nature of dog bites can also disrupt function in affected muscles and nerves.

Dog bite injuries are different from clean lacerations made with a sharp objects, and they require expert care for treatment and reconstruction. Our board-certified plastic and aesthetic surgeon, Elliott H. Rose, MD, has the experience and training necessary to help lessen scars, repair damage, restore function, and improve your appearance after a dog bite.

Why are dog bite injuries unique?

A dog’s jaw doesn’t leave a clean cut as would a sharp object like a knife. When a dog grabs hold with their teeth and jaws, they naturally shake their head. This causes significant trauma instead that often includes:

A dog bite can also damage nerves, muscles, and tendons in the area of the bite. A dog bite to the face alters the appearance of your features and the underlying structures that make it possible to speak, eat, breathe, and smile.

What types of injuries result from a dog bite?

Dog bites don’t always require medical attention or plastic surgery. They can cause a variety of injuries including:


These superficial wounds, like scrapes and scratches, usually don’t need a plastic surgeon’s intervention but should be monitored, as they’re vulnerable to infection.


Lacerations are deep cuts that may look torn with jagged edges. Lacerations usually require stitches.

Puncture wounds

When a dog's teeth pierce the skin, puncture wounds result. These can reach quite deeply and are especially concerning if they occur near a joint or bone. Punctures pose a high risk of infection.

Crushing wounds

A dog bite can literally crush tissue and bones, especially a bite caused by a large, strong breed.


The most severe type of dog bite wound, an avulsion refers to a case in which tissue or other facial features are torn away. Skin and muscle may hang in flaps and almost certainly require reconstructive surgery.

How can plastic surgery help?

Plastic surgery is usually called for in cases that involved deep wounds, avulsions, or those that required notable removal of dead tissue.

Reconstructive plastic surgery restores your facial features to improve your appearance, confidence, and well-being. The surgery is also instrumental in reshaping the support structures of the mouth, nose, and ears to regain function.

Dog bite injuries usually require multiple sessions and a variety of surgical techniques to restore function and appearance.

At The Aesthetic Surgery Center, Dr. Rose uses state-of-the-art surgical strategies to recreate a natural facial appearance. He may use tissue grafts, microsurgery, and tissue rearrangements, depending on the extent of your injuries and their location.

Additional treatments, like laser therapy and dermal fillers, can help further reduce the prominence and discoloration of scars.

Repairing damage from a dog bite and restoring your appearance means you have one less reminder about the attack, which can help you overcome the emotional and psychological toll of your injuries.

If you’ve suffered a dog bite or any injury that requires reconstructive plastic surgery, reach out to The Aesthetic Surgery Center on the Upper East Side of New York City. Dr. Rose is world-renowned and can help you achieve the best possible outcome from your injury. Contact our office via phone or through this website.

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