Post Burn Reconstruction
Plastic surgery for burns is required to treat complex burns. Reconstructive burn surgery is mostly undertaken by altering scar tissue to reduce the patient’s burn scars improving the cosmetic appearance and restoring function of the body part. This surgery mainly helps release contracture to help a patient regain normal motor movements. Reconstructive burn surgery is also extensively used in cases of facial burn scarring for problems when it affects the eyelids, lips, nose, or causes hair loss.
Plastic Surgery for Burns
The patient may first have to undergo debriding, which is the removal of dead tissue, prior to burn reconstructive surgery. After that the plastic surgeon may recommend the following:
Skin grafts :
- In this surgery, the skin is removed from one area of the body and transplanted to affected area.
- There are two types of skin grafts: split-thickness grafts in which just where only layers of outer skin are transplanted and full-thickness grafts, where all of the dermis is transplanted.
- In a skin graft, the skin from the patient’s inner thighs or buttocks is mostly used. This donor site is then covered with a dressing to prevent infection from occurring.
- Recovery time ranges from three weeks for a split-thickness skin graft to 6-8 weeks for full-thickness skin graft.
- In a microsurgery, the plastic surgeon or burn reconstruction surgeon uses a microscope for surgical assistance in reconstructive procedure to sew tiny blood vessels or nerves, allowing him or her to repair those damaged nerves and arteries.
- It is mostly used in cases of facial paralysis, finger / toe / ear / lip reattachment, and breast reconstruction.
Free flap procedure :
- A free flap procedure is used by a plastic surgeon during breast reconstruction or after the removal of tumours in head or neck cancer.
- In this free flap procedure, the muscle, skin, or bone is transferred along with the original blood supply from one area of the body (donor site) to the affected surgical site in order to reconstruct the area.
- Healing period maybe six to eight weeks or longer.
Tissue expansion :
- This tissue expansion procedure involves no removal of skin from one area to another.
- It is performed by inserting an instrument known as a “balloon expander” under the skin near the affected area. As the balloon fills with saline solution (salt water), it causes the skin to stretch and grow in a normal manner.
- Once enough extra skin is grown, it is then used to correct or reconstruct the damaged body part.
- This procedure is commonly used for breast reconstruction.
- The major advantage of this procedure is that there is very little scarring and the skin color and texture are a near perfect match for the area since it is grown in the patient’s own body for use in the reconstructive procedure.
- The downside of this procedure is that the tissue expansion takes between four to five months.