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Embalming Technology

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Embalming Technology (Part 5)

Posted by John A. Chew on July 30, 2013

Continuing on with the positioning of the body, we will discuss facial features in this article.

  The face should be carefully shaved. In many cases, women are shaved to enhance cosmetic application after embalming. Due to hormonal changes, some elderly women develop a heavy growth of facial hair. Family should be asked if the facial hair should be removed. Removal may take away from the natural appearance of the individual.

  In some cases when a person’s skin is thin, the shaving cream should be mixed with emollient cream or Soft Skin. The razor should be washed in hot water and cooled in cold water prior to reapplication to the facial tissue. Failure to do so may cause dehydration and a browning effect (razor burn).

  The hair should be carefully washed and rinsed. Softener should be massaged into the scalp to loosen any encrusted materials (dandruff, etc.) prior to the actual embalming procedure. The hair should be combed and dried at the completion of the embalming process.

  The ears should be sprayed with a biocide and swabbed. If encrusted material is apparent, spray with softener and, if necessary, repeat as part of the embalming cleansing process. In some situations, this could be a common fungus invasion (Aspergillus).

  The eyes should be sprayed with a biocide and carefully swabbed (never use a dehydrating chemical such as weak arterial solution or disinfecting spray that contains formaldehyde). The eyeball and eyelid should then be coated with a thin layer of Vaseline (a tacky compound with multi-purpose uses).

  The nose should be sprayed and swabbed. A small piece of cotton coated with Vaseline should be placed loosely in the nose (so as not to obstruct capillaries) to reduce the pinching effect that occurs after death (facies hippocratica).

  The mouth should be sprayed with a biocide and swabbed. If dentures are present, they should be sprayed, removed and scrubbed with disinfectant soap and abrasive powder. The mouth should be sprayed with a biocide and swabbed until clean and the walls of the oral cavity thinly coated with Vaseline. A minimum of two or three ounces of biocide should be poured into the trachea to treat the inner portion of the lungs as well as the lining of the larynx and trachea (first area of unseen decomposition).

  The keystone of naturalness is the mouth. Proper alignment of the mouth is essential to creating a natural appearance.

  The most practical method of closure is using the needle injector. This is an easy and practical method which limits potential hazard of accidental needle punctures to the embalmer. The needles are injected between the roots of the teeth into the alveolar process (spongy bone) in the maxilla and mandible. The angle is important. In the maxilla, the needle should be downward and, in the mandible, it should be upward. Reverse angle would allow the needles to pull against each other and slip out. The needles are inserted into the left side away from the viewing position. Right side insertion sometimes creates distention which distorts naturalness.

  There are many other methods developed by practitioners over the years which deal with proper securing of the alignment of the mouth. We will deal with those in ET-6.


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