According to the American Burn Association, approximately 450,000 people sustain burn injuries annually in America. Burn injuries, especially severe ones, have devastating physical, psychological, and financial effects. Fortunately, plastic surgeons employ their knowledge, experience, and artistic vision to restore the function, form, and aesthetics of burned tissues and cells, thus improving the quality of life. Learn two ways a plastic surgeon can assist a burn patient.
Perform Reconstructive Surgery
Many people opt for plastic surgery after a burn injury to restore the appearance and function of the affected area. Skilled surgeons like Dr. Joel Aronowitz use their surgical expertise and the latest technologies to perform reconstructive plastic surgery, benefiting the victim in numerous ways.
First, it enhances the confidence and self-esteem of the victim. Some burns cause disfigurement, a constant reminder of the horrific event. People questioning the cause of the disfigurement add salt to the injury. Plastic surgery allows victims to lead a normal life without questioning and, at times, stigmatization due to a visible burn.
Second, reconstructive surgery can have medical benefits. For instance, burn injuries to the nose or nasal cavity hinder a person’s breathing and lower sleep quality. Plastic surgery restores the nose’s function and appearance while improving breathing and sleep. Sometimes, severe burns can result in vision loss due to excess skin around the eyes or drooping eyelids. Blepharoplasty gets rid of excess skin and fat around the eyes and tightens the skin to restore vision and get beautiful eyes.
When burns damage the skin, victims get scars. Mild burns only affect the outer layers of the skin, and the scar fades with time. However, severe burns damage deeper skin layers, resulting in permanent scarring with a thick and irregular appearance. Second and third-degree burns leave hypertrophic, contracture, and keloid scars. They may also hinder joint and muscle movement due to skin tightening.
Plastic surgeons use various procedures to reduce scarring, from skin grafts to free flap surgery, laser treatment, microsurgery, and tissue expansion. In skin grafts, a surgeon removes skin from one body part and transplants it to the burn area. Similarly, tissue expansion stimulates new tissue grown on the burn area to reduce scarring. Fat grafting procedures also work well for burn scars and have an 80% success rate.
Microsurgery is an excellent option for burn survivors who have lost a finger, toe, or ear. It uses a microscope to mend blood vessels and nerves, allowing for such parts to be reattached. This procedure is also helpful in breast reconstruction and treating facial paralysis. Free flap surgery transfers muscle, skin, and body supply from one body part to the burn area to stimulate recovery.
Burn injuries may cause pain and itching, impaired mobility, psychological distress, and painful cosmetic appearance. Plastic surgeons help burn victims by repairing burned areas to restore function and aesthetics. They leverage their experience and modern technologies to improve the quality of life for burn victims. Since every burn injury is different, working with a qualified plastic surgeon is vital to establish the best surgical technique and treatment plan.