A surgical face mask, sometimes called a facial mask, is designed to be worn by medical staff during surgery. Surgical masks are designed to prevent infections from spreading in patients and possibly affecting other staff by capturing airborne pathogens and fluid droplets from the mouth and nose of the wearer. Face masks also help reduce the risk of allergic reactions to drugs, surgical gloves and other medicines which could have been introduced into the patient’s mouth by the surgeon. While there is controversy surrounding the role of surgery in bacterial infection and allergic reactions, it is clear that a surgical mask has its uses.
Face masks like the disposable plastic or silicon masks used during dental operations have many advantages over face shields such as the disposable bandages or silicone plugs worn during common surgical procedures. Firstly, the face shields can be quickly washed in warm water using a home washing appliance. They are very easy to use and often easy to wipe clean, even after surgery. They can be sterilized, unlike disposable bandages or silicone plugs, by simply following the manufacturer’s instructions, although this may not be advisable for people with medical allergies.
Face masks designed for use during surgery to provide a way to avoid the discomfort and inconvenience often associated with wearing cumbersome and restrictive headgear. Face masks for these purposes are generally very thin to allow air to flow through, making them comfortable to wear. When first worn, they can feel uncomfortable to wear due to the feeling of having something on your face, however after a while they become accustomed to the feeling and will no longer feel uncomfortable. Face masks provide a way to breathe whilst being under anaesthetic. Whilst it is common practice not to breathe whilst you are under anaesthetic, for social distancing purposes being able to breathe while the surgical procedure is taking place is vital and a face mask can often be worn until the anaesthetic has worn off.
Face masks for social distancing are commonly used by plastic surgeons to treat patients who have burns, scars, infections or fractures. Whilst using these devices while operating the surgical masks tightens the skin and pulls up the eyebrows so that the patient cannot breathe. It is usually difficult for patients to breathe after being made to wear a face mask whilst operating surgical instruments. Face masks for this purpose are normally very thin, which ensures that they do not make any airway compromise whilst being worn. Many plastic surgeons find that using a face mask whilst operating on their patients can help prevent the spread of infections.
Although they may look awkward or uncomfortable, face masks for social distancing work perfectly well for their purpose. They have been successful in their task of ensuring that patients are able to breathe whilst still having the ability to see. As face masks work by constricting the facial area, the airways are restricted from expanding and contracting as they would if you were wearing a full face mask or full face veil. This prevents the rapid and sudden contraction and expansion and contraction of the muscles around the mouth, thus reducing the amount of sweating and thereby reducing the chances of an infection.
However it is important to note that face masks for social distancing should only be worn for short periods of time and not longer than is necessary. They must also be used with other compression garments so that the wearer is able to maximise the full effects of the mask. If one is wearing a face mask whilst exercising, swimming, or working out then the best time to wear them is when starting the session and right through to the end. If exercising is a regular part of your life then consider splinting the wrist muscles so that the face mask does not interfere with the exercise you are doing.