Serious burns can require serious intervention. If you have suffered a major burn and have the scars to prove it, you might need plastic surgery to repair damaged skin and to help you feel like yourself again. If your burn has limited your mobility, has caused a loss of feeling or sensation, or is making you self-conscious about your appearance, plastic surgery is an option to consider. Let’s break this down.
Why Do You Need a Debridement Procedure?
Before you can begin any plastic surgery for your wound, the first procedure is debridement. Debridement is the removal of unhealthy tissue from a wound. Surgeons can use this procedure to get a sample for testing in cases where there are any further concerns with an area of tissue. Typically, when it comes to burn wounds, debridement is done to help the area heal by removing infected areas or dead cells, clean away dirt or debris, and create a neat wound edge to decrease the chances of scarring.
Non-surgical debridement uses medicine or water to achieve a clean wound while surgical methods, which take much less time, utilizes tools to remove areas of dead tissue to prepare for treatment and reconstruction.
What are the Plastic Surgery Options for Burn Wounds?
There are a handful of techniques when caring for burn wounds.
This procedure relieves symptoms caused by pinched or entrapped nerves, including severe pain, burning, numbness, and loss of sensation.
More recently, burn centers have begun applying fractional CO2 lasers to treat scarring and lack of mobility due to skin thickening and tightness. Performed in an outpatient operating room, the laser creates small holes in the scar to break up the tissue and help with long-term flexibility in the scar area.
This procedure, which is traditionally the most common used for burn victims, takes a patch of skin of a donor area on the body and transplants it onto another area. Depending on the severity of the wound, the surgeon will either remove the top two layers of skin—epidermis and dermis—or a full-thickness graft, which require the entire thickness of skin from the donor site. The donor area is typically one which is hidden under clothing, such as the inner thigh or buttocks, as it will leave scarring. Once placed on the new site, grafted skin can be used to alleviate severe pain and protect the body from infection.
Plastic surgery recovery time can span weeks or even months, depending on the severity of the burn and extent of the area needing treatment. While healing will take time, the long-term benefits outweigh the negatives. At the end of the day, it’s all about how you look, feel, and move forward with your life.