Facial Fractures in the Aging Population

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016 Feb;137(2):587-593. doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000475791.31361.9a.


Background: As the U.S. population ages and life expectancy increases, the number of elderly patients seeking trauma care and treatment for facial fractures will increase. Understanding age-related differences in the pattern, cause, and management of these fractures is essential for improving care.

Methods: A retrospective review of adults presenting to a Level I trauma center was performed to evaluate age-related differences in facial fractures. Descriptive statistics were used to compare fracture number, type, cause of injury, management, and adverse events between elderly (older than 64 years) and younger cohorts (aged 18 to 64 years). Logistic regression was used to evaluate the effect of age on fracture type while controlling for potential confounding variables.

Results: Two thousand twenty-three adult patients sustained a facial fracture from 2001 to 2011. Two hundred nine patients were elderly and 1814 were younger. Regarding cause of injury, older patients were more likely to fall and younger patients were more likely to be injured through assaults, motor vehicle collisions, or sports (p < 0.0001). Elderly patients sustained a higher incidence of maxillary (16.3 percent versus 11.4 percent; p = 0.0401), nasal (54.1 percent versus 45.3 percent; p = 0.0156), and orbital floor fractures (28.2 percent versus 18.1 percent; p = 0.004) and a lower incidence of mandible fractures (10.1 percent versus 21.3 percent; p = 0.0001). The elderly had significantly less operative intervention (24.9 percent versus 43 percent; p < 0.0001) and were less likely to experience complications (5.3 percent versus 10.5 percent; p = 0.0162).

Conclusion: Elderly patients tend to suffer from less severe facial fractures, requiring less need for operative intervention, likely secondary to low-energy mechanisms of injury.

Clinical question/level of evidence: Risk, II.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Facial Bones / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull Fractures / epidemiology*
  • Skull Fractures / etiology
  • Skull Fractures / therapy
  • Young Adult