There's a hole in my cheek. Should I worry?
April 14, 2008 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Disclaimer: I know you aren't my doctor, and I've made an appointment with a doctor for next week, but I'd like to make sure that I'm ok not going to an emergency room (I can't afford to if it's not necessary, which I don't think it is). Also, warning: slightly gruesome/gross if you are squeamish.

Here's the story: I was pretty sick last week and spent about 2 days in bed nonstop. When I finally got up and out of bed I thought I was okay but apparently was not, and I passed out walking down the stairs. I fell on my chin and was left with a pretty nasty gash right on the side of my chin. With the help of a friend I cleaned and bandaged the cut, and the bleeding stopped within a few hours so I did not require stitches.

This was about 3 days ago; since then the cut appears to be healing. I wasn't really concerned about it at all until last night. I was rinsing my mouth out with water and noticed that water was dribbling down my chin. Upon closer examination, it appears that the gash cut clear through my chin (into the mouth itself) and the water was leaking from my mouth out though the cut onto my chin.

My question is, is there any "harm" in this or anything to be worried about, aside from keeping an eye on it since it's a deep cut? I mean, obviously it's not good to have a hole in my cheek, but it is not infected and appears to be healing. Is there any reason to treat this any differently than a deep cut? Will the body naturally heal over the hole if I just leave it be and don't continuously blow water out through it to freak out my friends?
posted by btkuhn to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
I'm sure the correct answer is go to a doctor right now stop reading blah blah, but I will point out that people frequently pierce that area on purpose.
posted by robinpME at 11:15 AM on April 14, 2008

With the help of a friend I cleaned and bandaged the cut, and the bleeding stopped within a few hours so I did not require stitches.

This is incorrect. You should have, and may still need, stitches.
posted by Grither at 11:16 AM on April 14, 2008

Oh, but I should also mention that IANAD. And I also think it would be quite fun to freak out my friends with a chin-hole, so I guess it's your call.
posted by Grither at 11:18 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had one of those once, when I got punched in the mouth in karate class and it poked my lower incisor through my chin below my lip. I went to the ER. They cleaned it and put a band-aid on the outside, and it healed up in a few days. That being said, I had a small hole and had the comfort of a professionals opinion. I might not run to the ER if I were you, but I would try and make a regular appointment to get it checked out, if that is affordable.
posted by procrastination at 11:19 AM on April 14, 2008

It sounds to me like you need stitches, but I'm not a doctor, so I can't say for sure. I think you're risking infection by leaving it as it is. I wouldn't want to leave it for a week - it could heal improperly. I'd get it checked out soon.
posted by Dasein at 11:21 AM on April 14, 2008

It probably depends how concerned you are about scarring. On your face.
posted by you're a kitty! at 11:27 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Move up your appointment to ASAP. Though the tissue may have healed to the point that stitches will not help you that much, a professional inspection/cleaning and maybe a prophylactic course of antibiotics are worth your while.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:28 AM on April 14, 2008

Until you see a doctor, you are at major risk of infection. Go to the ER and get it treated and closed up.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 11:30 AM on April 14, 2008

Generally, if you have a hole in your face that you didn't willingly put there, you should go to the fucking ER. Give them a fake name & fake SSN if you can't afford it.
posted by cmonkey at 11:44 AM on April 14, 2008

Sounds like a case for Urgent Care. MUCH cheaper than the emergency room, you wait a few more hours, its great. Look for Urgent Care facilities in your area
posted by jeffderek at 11:54 AM on April 14, 2008

Besides risk of infection, the other problem with not getting stitches is that it's likely to leave a nasty scar.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:05 PM on April 14, 2008

You want to get that hole closed up. The earlier they start it, the better it will go. I'd say get up and go out the door right now to get it looked at.
posted by winston at 12:05 PM on April 14, 2008

I would have been in the E/R after I passed out.

You're already probably past the point at which you could have had a nice, cosmetically appealing healing by primary intent of this wound. Now we're talking whether or not you're going to have a permanent hole in your face and/or a disfiguring scar; never mind the infection with oral flora you probably have got going.

You need a plastic surgeon and you need not to wait any longer.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:19 PM on April 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

Go to the ER, now. Not because it's going to kill you, but because the longer this is untreated, the more expensive and more difficult it will be to repair without scarring.
posted by zippy at 12:23 PM on April 14, 2008

Here's another vote for urgent care--cheaper than ER and my choice for stitchery.
posted by PatoPata at 2:19 PM on April 14, 2008

When I badly hurt my hand several years ago (got a stone shoved into the palm right down to amongst the bones) I didn't go to the doctor until the next morning. They told me that it really should have had stitches but because I'd waited it was too late. The inflammation had set in and the healing started and they could no longer move things back where they should be or sew them together. Now my hand was pretty swollen by then and it did eventually heal (I have a scar), so your face might be easier. But this long after the injury it's likely that they actually can't stitch it.

What you do need, however, is prophylactic antibiotics. Your mouth is not only filled with bacteria but the areas around it are well served by blood vessels, so the chances of any infection turning systemic are pretty high (this is why I'd never get my tongue pierced). There are dressings they can apply to the inside of the cut to help prevent infection and ways of binding the cut together to improve healing that don't involve stitches, so it's worth going to a walk in clinic or something to see what they can do. Waiting until next week is too long, by then the healing will be well advanced, possible with the hole still open, and any possible infection will have made you sick already.
posted by shelleycat at 2:58 PM on April 14, 2008

Like Shellycat said, you should go see a doctor, but they almost certainly won't give you stitches (at least not without some sort of follow-up surgery) because of the risk of infection in closing a wound that has been open for that long.

Hot compresses can be a good thing to speed healing and limit infection.
posted by mercredi at 7:02 PM on April 14, 2008

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