Our body is composed of cells and tissues that may get burned or damaged due to fire or other corrosive agents. Burn injuries may result in loss of sensation, impaired mobility and affect your cosmetic appearance. Plastic surgery for burns is an advanced technique that can repair the damaged burned areas to restore loss of form and function.
The plastic surgeon may recommend different surgical options depending upon the severity of the burn and condition of the patient. Various burn surgery options are:
- Skin grafts: This surgical procedure is the most commonly used for burn patients. It involves transplantation of the patient’s skin from healthy areas (called donor site) to the burned area. A specially designed instrument called ‘Dermatome’ is employed for preparing skin grafts. Based on the layers of the skin that are removed, skin grafts are categorized as:
- Split-thickness grafts: Includes a few outer layers of the skin and takes less than 3 weeks to recovery after transplantation
- Full-thickness grafts: Includes entire dermis layer of the skin and take 5-6 weeks to recover after transplantation
Usually donor skin is removed from covered areas such as the buttocks or inner thigh. The removed graft is placed over the burn area, fixed with a few stitches and then dressed with a sterile dressing. Likewise the donor site is also dressed with a sterile dressing to prevent infection.
- Tissue expansion: This is a medical procedure that enhances the growth of skin to cover the burn area. A specially designed prosthesis called a tissue expander is inserted into a pocket near the damaged skin. This is inflated over a period of weeks to months to expand and produce extra skin and subcutaneous tissue. At a second procedure, the expander is removed and the loose skin advanced into the defect. The major advantages of this procedure are repaired skin will have same colour and texture as that of the original skin with little scarring. The whole procedure may take 4 months for complete healing of the wound.
- Microsurgery: Transfer of a block of tissue with an intact blood supply and re-joining it using microsurgery is the most complex of reconstructive procedures. The procedure is call free tissue transfer and it is also used for cancer, trauma and breast reconstruction.
Yes (seek confirmation from your private health fund)