Reconstructive surgery for burns is a type of surgery that is performed to repair and restore function to areas of the body affected by burns. This surgery is typically performed by plastic surgeons who are specially trained to treat acute burns as well as late post-burn reconstructive surgeries. There are several different types of burn surgery that may be used, including skin grafting, contracture release, and various flaps or procedures to improve the appearance of burn scars.
Depending on the severity of the burn and the age of the patient, a burn injury survivor may require – or may elect – several different types of reconstructive surgery for burns. These surgeries may be performed by plastic surgeons who are specially trained in the treatment of burn injuries. Some types of burn surgery occur almost immediately after the burn incident, whereas other types of surgeries come into play down the road during rehabilitation.
Sadly, children with serious burn injuries often face the most surgeries of all types of burn victims. Because they are still growing, they require surgeries to correct scarring and allow for proper growth throughout their lives.
A temporary skin graft is performed to provide a temporary cover for burned skin to preserve sterility, protect the skin from further damage and provide pain relief. Temporary skin grafts are sometimes performed with a procedure called xenografting, in which a medical product made of sterilized pig skin is used as the temporary covering.
Reconstructive surgery for burns may include the use of permanent skin grafts, which are often required for burn survivors with deep partial-thickness burns or full-thickness burns. Skin grafts are a type of burn surgery that promotes healing and helps minimize scarring. Depending on the size of the burn, a patient may require more than one skin graft operation while hospitalized. There are several different types of burn surgery that may be used in the treatment of burn injuries.
Permanent skin grafts almost always use skin from another part of the burn victim’s body (called the donor site). After the skin graft operation, the donor site must also receive treatment to minimize scarring. Immediately after a permanent skin graft operation, the patient must undergo an immobilization period of about five days, so that the blood vessels may begin to grow from the tissue below the graft into the donor skin
Reconstructive surgery for burns may include the use of dermabrasion, which is a surgical technique that has been around for more than 100 years. Dermabrasion uses either a laser or a sterile wire brush or a diamond wheel to remove raised scars in order to improve their appearance. While a scar can never be completely erased, dermabrasion is an extremely useful tool to lessen the appearance of scars from a burn injury. This type of burn surgery may be performed on an in-patient or out-patient basis by a dermatological surgeon.
For some patients with extremely severe burns to their legs, arms, hands or feet, amputation may become a necessary surgery. Whether amputation will be necessary depends on the extent and depth of the burn, as well as on how well the burn responds to other surgical treatments.
Patients with burn injuries to areas of the body such as the ears, face, or breasts may be recommended for reconstructive surgery, which is a type of surgery that is performed to repair and restore function to areas of the body affected by burns. Reconstructive surgery for burns may be performed by plastic surgeons who are specially trained in the treatment of burn injuries.
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