Burning your skin is a very traumatic experience and can leave behind scars that remind one of the traumatic incident. Scarring caused by burns may fade a little with time but are usually permanent. Apart from affecting your appearance severe burns can also affect the functioning of the body. Burns can make a person withdraw socially by making him or her afraid of how people will accept them with their scars as well as make them depressed about their appearance.
Burn repair surgery can be categorised under two headings: Acute and Reconstructive
- Acute repair surgery happens immediately after the burn and deals with large burns and burns that affect critical areas. The focus here is to close the skin in case of open burns and help the skin heal.
- Reconstructive burn surgery addresses the skin after the initial burn wounds have healed. The goal here is to improve the appearance of the scars and ensure no lasting loss of functioning. Reconstructive burn surgery has a high success rate.
There are many types of reconstructive surgeries for burns and the type of surgery best suited to a patient is based on the location of the scar, the extent of scarring and the patient’s personal goals.
- Skin grafts: This involves the removal of healthy skin tissues from one part of the body and transplanting it to the burn site. This skin graft may include only a few outer layers of skin or may involve the entire dermis. This is used in cases of severe burns where a large section of the dermis is affected.
- Microsurgery: This is a procedure where the surgeon reattaches or reconstructs severed fingers, toes, ears etc by sewing together blood vessels and nerves. This is often used alongside other surgical procedures.
- Free flap procedure: In this procedure, muscle, bone or skin is transferred from one part of the body to another to reconstruct the area. This type of surgery is often accompanied by microsurgery.
- Tissue expansion: This involves the insertion of a balloon expander under the skin near the burn site. As the balloon is filled with saline, the skin stretches and grows. Once the skin has stretched enough, the expander is removed and the skin can then be used to repair burn scars.
This procedure has many advantages as the skin colour and texture are a near perfect match thus reducing scarring to a large extent. However, it is a very slow procedure and can take a few months. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dermatologist.