Harrison Ford is likely to receive an encouraging prognosis for his scalp and facial injuries, says a top surgeon.
An eyewitness to Ford’s plane crash told PEOPLE that the 72-year-old star suffered a five- or six-inch gash about “the size of a pancake.”
Generally speaking, such lacerations would be repaired immediately with sutures of some sort upon the patient’s hospital admission.
“The principles are going to be the same for any type of traumatic accident like this,” says Dr. Anu Bajaj, vice chair of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Public Education Committee. “You need to rule out any more serious injuries, whether it’s head injuries or spinal injuries, and once you do that you can focus on the more superficial injuries like the scalp and facial lacerations.”
With a complex laceration, “there are multiple layers of sutures,” says Dr. Bajaj, who has not treated Ford. “You may as a patient only see the sutures on the skin surface, but as a surgeon we also place sutures on a deeper layer which you aren’t able to see.”
The eyewitness told PEOPLE that the cut was clean and had minimal bleeding, which suggests “there are no jagged edges and so would just require closure,” says Dr. Bajaj.
Recovery time is generally faster on the face and scalp, which are vascular areas of the body and thus “you have more blood flow, which allows them to heal,” she adds.
As for scarring, “generally speaking, scars on the face will heal very well and fade with time. Scars on the scalp will also heal and become less noticeable because of hair growth,” says Dr. Bajaj.
If injuries are limited to lacerations on the face and scalp, patients are generally discharged after the repair. They would then return for removal of sutures and staples within five to seven days for the face and slightly longer for the scalp.
“Every patient is different,” says Dr. Bajaj. “Typically it will take about two to three weeks for the bruising and swelling to go down enough where it’s not so noticeable.”