Will Old Lacerations Be an Issue in the Third Fight of the Trilogy? A Plastic Surgeon’s Perspective.
Over the last decade and a half, I have had the opportunity to assist as a post-fight Plastic Surgeon. I like to think that I can apply my training and experience to help the fighters. I have seen, (and treated), many lacerations. I have been able to care for several world champions and legends in the sport of Boxing I have repaired their wounds in some of the greatest venues in the world, on three continents.
The upcoming match between two heavyweight warriors is intriguing for a variety of reasons. One of them is their respective history of lacerations, and the question if they may have any bearing on the contest.
Fighters know that getting cut is often part of the sport. They also know that once cut, they are more likely to reopen the wound if traumatized again. This is born out in medical studies, where it is seen that scar tissue is usually only 70% as strong as undamaged tissue.
The lacerations are usually around the orbital rim. This is the bone that is around, (above and to the side of), the eye. Often the force of a blow from a punch will be too much for the skin that is being squished between two hard surfaces, and the tissue is then torn. The laceration on the eyelid is less common. The skin on the eyelid is very thin, but usually it does not see significant force.
Notable eyelid lacerations that I have seen, (and repaired), are Antonio Margarito after his second fight with Miguel Cotto, and Jeff Horn after his fight with Manny Pacquiao.
One wants to close the skin in layers to take the tension off the final, outer layer of skin. This helps achieve a solid construct, (as well as an aesthetically acceptable scar). Often Boxers believe that this helps the area not open when it gets hit again. It is important to take care of the wound afterward to get the best result. Taking some time off before sparring is needed.
Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO’s) fought Otto Wallin (20-1, 13 KO’s) on September 14, 2019 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Fury beat the undefeated Wallin by unanimous decision. In the third round, Fury suffered a significant laceration above his right eye from a short-left hook. In the fifth round, he also sustained a cut on his right eyelid from an accidental butting of heads. He was examined by the ringside Nevada State Athletic Commission Doctor, who allowed the fight to continue.
Tyson Fury was taken to University Medical Center, (UMC), (Las Vegas, NV). The UNLV Plastic Surgery Service was requested. His wound was anesthetized, washed out, and repaired in multiple layers. I spoke to the Physician who repaired the wounds. We spoke about the injury, the anatomic structures seen, and the repair. The forehead repair was done in multiple layers to achieve the most solid closure. A reported 47 sutures were required for the closure. The larger wound was described as over the right eye, down to the bone.
Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KO’s) sustained a cut while fighting Tyson Fury in their second match on February 22, 2020, in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Wilder’s corner stopped the fight, resulting in a TKO loss. There was significant bleeding from his left ear during the fight. This continued as Wilder made his way back to his dressing room. He sustained a laceration to the concha of his ear. It was 2 cm long and took 7 sutures to close. There were rumors that he sustained a ruptured eardrum, and /or a broken jaw during the bout. This was not the case when I examined him before stopping the bleeding, and repairing the wound. The suturing process was captured by an ESPN camera in the dressing room.
Both men have been back in the gym hard at work, including sparring. In the ring, Tyson Fury has had three fights since his laceration. It appears that he has a solid construct after healing. Deontay Wilder has not had a major fight. His laceration is in a unique place, which typically does not sustain major trauma while boxing. While both men have had lacerations repaired, and there is always the chance of reopening, it seems that it should not be a major issue as they move towards their bout. I am hopeful for an entertaining heavyweight championship contest. I hope the pugilists do not need medical attention afterwards.
1. Chung, Kevin C. Grabb and Smith’s Plastic Surgery. 8th edition. Wolters Kluwer Health 2019.
2. The Role of Wound Healing and Its Everyday Application in Plastic Surgery: A Practical Perspective and Systematic Review. Ireton JE, Unger JG, Rohrich RJ. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2013 Apr; 1(1): e10-e19.
3. Studies on the biology of collagen during wound healing. Dynamic metabolism of scar collagen and remodeling of dermal wounds. Madden JW, Peacock EE Ann Surg. 1971 Sep;174(3):511-20.