Reconstructive surgeons can improve the appearance and function of skin that has been injured and deformed by burns. Goals for burn wound care procedures include:
- Improve function/appearance of skin
- Help prevent infection of burn wounds
- Reduce risk of diseases which burn victims may be prone to contracting
A reconstructive surgeon may utilize several advanced techniques to accomplish these goals.
Burn Wound Care with Dr. Morse
Listed below are the most common techniques used during burn reconstruction and care. If a specific procedure is recommended for you, the doctor will explain the procedure in depth during your consultation and answer any questions you have. Surgery risks, costs and other important details will be discussed, so you have an adequate understanding of burn wound care before you choose to proceed.
Scar release is a technique designed to treat scar contractures, a type of scar formed when healthy skin pulls together. Scar contractures can be unsightly and potentially limit a person’s movement.
Z-Plasty repositions a scar to make it less noticeable. It may also relieve tension of a scar contracture. Under local anesthesia, Dr. Morse makes incisions on each side of the scar, creating small triangular skin flaps. These flaps are then arranged to cover the wound at a different angle, giving the scar a Z pattern.
Grafting techniques can significantly improve the function of a scarred area. Typically performed as an inpatient hospital procedure, Dr. Morse transfers skin from a donor site to an injured area. The procedure may cause some scarring and the skin color may not match precisely, but grafting is still beneficial for many burn patients.
Flap Surgery is another technique that can greatly improve function of a scarred area. Dr. Morse transfers tissues like skin, fat, muscle and blood vessels from a healthy area to an injury site. Using microsurgical techniques, the flap can be attached to blood vessels at the new site.
Tissue Expansion may be considered an alternative to skin grafting. An inflatable balloon is placed beneath the skin, near a scar or injury. By expanding the balloon with saline, the skin can be stretched to replace scar tissue.
What to Expect After Surgery
After burn wound care and reconstruction, Dr. Morse will likely apply a dressing of gauze and tape, which should remain dry and intact. The suture lines that are exposed will also be treated with an antimicrobial ointment. Swelling and discomfort is normal during recovery. Dr. Morse can prescribe a pain medication to help you manage discomfort.Follow-Up
If non-absorbable sutures were used during your procedure, they will be removed in a follow-up appointment 1 – 3 weeks after the operation. In procedures that require a scar release, a splint is often used to prevent contracture. After the first week, Dr. Morse may change or remove the splint, depending on the type of scar and its location.To learn more about burn wound care and reconstruction, contact the Great Falls, VA office of reconstructive surgeon Dr. Martin Morse.