What are clinical pearls for the surgical repair of a complex lip laceration?

Updated: Aug 25, 2020
  • Author: Gretchen S Lent, MD; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Emphasis on accurately approximating the vermilion border is advised for the best cosmetic outcome.

The location of intraoral lacerations can make repair difficult without assistance for retraction. One option is to have the patient retract his or her own lip.

Strongly consider the use of regional nerve blocks.

If a patient with a lip or oral laceration also has a newly chipped tooth, search diligently for tooth fragments in the oral mucosa [11] ; if not removed, such fragments may cause wound infections. Retained tooth fragments can be visualized on radiographs of the soft tissue. [12, 21]

Lip wounds are more prone to infections than other wounds due to the saliva and contamination from dental bacterial plaque. [13, 19]

Consider the possibility of underlying facial fractures or dental injuries in trauma patients with lip lacerations; order imaging as necessary. [22]

Remember to update a patient's tetanus vaccination when necessary.

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