Face masks have been used for centuries to protect our skin from bacteria, fungi, and viruses. For centuries, surgeons routinely performed face masks in surgery. In fact, if you have any information about the history of face mask surgery you will see that it predates most of the medical discoveries made by modern doctors. Face masking has actually always been part of medical practice and has been used to protect the skin and the face from infection, as well as to protect the face from irritants and trauma during surgery. It was only natural that the face mask would evolve into an integral part of the medical wardrobe.
A surgical mask may be composed of a single sheet of material or of many layers, depending upon the needs of the patient. In the single-piece version, the sheets are usually made of cloth that is tied at the edges. If smaller particles are required, disposable plastic bags may be used to hold the small particles in place. Face masks like these are typically worn during surgery.
Another type of face mask consists of one or more sheets of fabric sewn together around the head. The face mask used for this purpose is known as a particulate face mask. Some versions of these types of masks consist of small-particle drops that cover large areas of the face, while others contain very small particles. In the single-piece construction, the smaller particles are held in place by plastic draping that is sewn across the top and bottom of the piece. This type of construction is less efficient, because the particles that fall onto the floor are unlikely to be captured by the draping, even if the pieces are carefully positioned.
A face shield is constructed with similar but more complex composition. Rather than being comprised of smaller, plastic particles, a face shield is composed of many smaller particles, which are attached permanently to plastic covers that cover the entire head. Because the face shield is so large, it is more difficult to use than a typical particulate face mask. The covers that come on the device are referred to as goggles, and they are usually used in sandboxes and in other rugged work environments. Goggles are available in three sizes: small, medium, and large.
A third type of face mask is composed entirely of small-particle drops, composed primarily of water. These devices, which are called surgical masks, are usually used in dry environments. Surgeons wear them under a surgical mask when performing open-face operations, such as those that repair cleft palates and repair small wounds. They are available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The droplets are attached using specially designed double-sided tape, so the device can also be used as an athletic face shield.
Medical clinics that specialize in facial cosmetic surgery may choose to wear specialized surgical masks for different purposes. For example, a nose mask may be required for those patients who need surgery for chronic snoring problems, as well as patients who require corrections to their nasal bridges. A gum shield could be worn by healthcare workers to protect their mouth from the waste products of cleaning or sterilizing instruments. Finally, a surgical mask may be worn to shield the eyes during a procedure, or to prevent the patient from blinking. Surgical masks have been a standard part of the healthcare professional’s uniform for many years, and new advances in the materials used to make these medical devices make them even more durable and reliable than ever before.