Plastic surgery rebuilds face of trauma patient

by adminhc on April 28th, 2016 at 5:50 pm

KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana


When you think of plastic surgery, your first thought is likely a cosmetic procedure, enhancing someone’s looks.  But there is a very practical, functional side of plastic surgery, something that is a critical component of trauma care.

It has been nearly five months since Martie Martin of Reeves was in a terrible car accident.

“Coming home and I went around a curve,” he said.  “Something popped in my truck and next thing I know, it’s in a ditch.”

From the ditch, Martin’s truck then slammed into a tree.

“I remember the impact of hitting a tree and that’s about it,” said Martin.

Memorial Medical Group facial plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist, Dr. Hope Bueller, was called in to the operating room that morning to reconstruct Martin’s face, while another surgeon removed part of his lower intestines.

“His face was pretty torn up,” said Dr. Bueller, “he had a split of the upper lip through and through and he had some of his nasal cartilage, which had been torn and detached from where they belonged, so those all had to be reattached and repaired and his upper lip required repair, too.”

Dr. Bueller says surgery needed to be done immediately to restore function to Martin’s nose and mouth, in order to breathe, speak, and swallow.

“Initially it was just a matter of figuring out which pieces of tissue went where,” said Dr. Bueller.  “They were very displaced, so we had to clean the wound and then just start putting the pieces back together, doing a lot of meticulous fine suturing.”

Eleven facial procedures were performed on the operating table that day and Martin was given strict instructions to ensure the best healing.

“Keep it clean and keep it moist,” he said.  “Try not to squint or move too much, try to do too many facial expressions.”

Martin’s recovery happened quickly.

“Within about a week he was starting to feel better and able to resume some of his activities, but really it takes at least a month or six weeks to have everything completely healed,” said Dr. Bueller.

In the days following the procedures, Martin admits he had doubts about if he would ever look like he did before the accident.

“I didn’t think it was ever going to heal up the way it has,” said Martin.

But today, Martin says he is back to feeling like himself and looking like himself, with just a couple of small scars that tell the story of his survival.

Dr. Bueller says recovery from facial injuries is typically fairly easy.  Injections can be used to help soften scarring.

You can learn more about non-surgical facial procedures at an open house with Dr. Bueller on Thursday, February 18. It is at Lake Charles Memorial for Women’s physicians offices on Gauthier Rd. from 5:30-7:00 P.M. There will be giveaways, refreshments, and discounts offered for those signing up for services.