Burn Reconstruction

Plastic surgeons play a critical role in improving quality of life for men and women with burn injuries. Burn victims can face significant challenges on the road to recovery, ranging from physical disfigurement to functional limitations to psychological struggles. Fortunately, there are a number of ways plastic surgeons can improve the cosmetic appearance and functional capabilities of burn-damaged skin.

Burn surgery falls into two main categories: acute and reconstructive. Acute burn surgery takes place immediately after the injury, often by trauma surgeons who specialize in this type of care. Later in the recovery process, after the initial wounds have healed, some patients require reconstructive burn surgery to improve the function and appearance of the damaged area. This kind of care is usually provided by a plastic surgeon. Reconstructive treatment for burn injuries can be a long journey, and the relationship between the patient and their plastic surgeon often lasts many years.

Who Can Benefit From Burn Reconstruction Surgery?

You may wish to consider reconstructive burn surgery if:

  • Your range of motion has been limited by scar contracture
  • You are experiencing problems with your eyelids, lips, nose, ears or scalp caused by scarring on the head or face
  • Your scars are abnormally thick, wide or discolored
  • You struggle with feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment, hopelessness and fear of rejection in social situations

What Techniques Are Used in Burn Reconstruction?

When planning reconstructive surgery, a surgeon must consider the patient’s primary complaints and conduct a thorough physical examination of the patient. Together, these factors will determine the reconstructive possibilities available to the patient, as well as the optimal timing and order of procedures. Some of the techniques utilized in burn reconstruction include:

Skin Grafts: During a skin graft procedure, a patch of skin is removed from a healthy area of the body and transplanted to the injured area. This is the most common surgical procedure for burn patients. Moderate burns can be treated with thinner split-thickness grafts, while severe burns require more substantial full-thickness grafts.

Tissue Expansion: Tissue expansion encourages the body to “grow” extra skin by inserting a balloon-like expander under the skin near the burned area and gradually increasing its volume to stretch the tissue. The damaged skin can then be replaced with this fresh tissue that is a near-perfect match in color and texture to the surrounding skin.

Flap Surgery: Flap surgery is an advanced technique that involves the transfer of living tissue that remains connected to its blood vessels from a healthy area of the body to the burn site. Flaps can come from many different locations, and because their blood supply stays intact, they can yield better results than skin grafts in some cases.

Scar Revision: Revision of scar tissue can improve the function and/or the cosmetic appearance of burn scars. A variety of revision techniques and tools are available to address concerns such as hypertrophic scars, keloids and contracture.

What Can I Expect During Recovery?

Your postoperative experience will depend on the extent of your burn injury and the reconstructive technique used. Follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions to encourage healing and obtain the best possible aesthetic outcome. Occupational therapy or physical therapy may be required to maximize recovery of function. You will receive detailed recovery information for your personalized treatment plan before surgery.

What Results Can Burn Reconstruction Achieve?

The goal of all burn reconstruction procedures is to improve function, comfort and appearance to the greatest extent possible. While reconstructive surgery cannot eliminate burn scars entirely, it can make scarring less noticeable and help patients regain vital functional abilities. Reconstruction, along with appropriate psychological and emotional support, can dramatically improve confidence and quality of life for burn victims.

Is Burn Reconstruction Right For Me?

Recovery and reconstruction after a burn injury is a physically, mentally and emotionally taxing experience. Dr. Bazzi and his staff recognize that every patient’s healing journey is unique, and are committed to handling each case with compassion and sensitivity. Early and appropriate burn treatment is crucial for achieving the best possible cosmetic and functional outcomes. Dr. Bazzi offers a full spectrum of reconstructive procedures and will create a personalized treatment plan based on your individual needs. Call the Celestial Institute of Plastic Surgery today at 734-844-5700 to request a consultation.